A federal appeals court awarded nearly $2 million on Wednesday to more than 600 Latino farm workers who accused a farm labor contractor and two Washington state growers of violating federal labor laws.
The Yakima Valley farm workers claimed that Valley Fruit Orchards and Green Acre Farms illegally and intentionally displaced them by hiring Los Angeles-based Global Horizons to bring in foreign workers in 2004.
U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley in Yakima awarded $237,000 in statutory damages to the workers in 2009, which was to be paid by Global Horizons.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, ruling that the workers were entitled to damages of nearly $2 million and that Global Horizons and the growers were jointly liable.
“This is a huge victory for local farm workers in the Yakima Valley,” Jose Perez, one of three representative plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit, said in a statement issued by his lawyers. “We’ve waited a long time for this day and we’re glad the court validated these important worker rights.”