Migrant farm workers within Mexico have been protesting low rates of pay, but some of those who have crossed the border to work in the United States have faced other challenges.
A migrant worker from Chiapas was one of five women awarded a total of US $17 million after their employers allegedly raped and sexually harassed them at a produce packing plant in Florida, reports the Huffington Post.
Sandra López charged that the plant’s owner, Omar Moreno, dragged her into his trailer one day and raped her. Two others said either Moreno or his brother Oscar raped them and two more charged the brothers with attempted rape and making sexual comments.
A suit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August last year against Moreno Farms. The commission announced yesterday that a federal jury had awarded the plaintiffs $2.425 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages.
“The jury’s verdict today should serve as a clear message to the agricultural industry that the law will not tolerate subjecting female farm workers to sexual harassment and that there are severe consequences when a sex-based hostile work environment is permitted to exist,” said the commission’s Robert E. Weisberg.
The Moreno Farms plant has since been closed and the brothers have not responded to a legal summons, the Miami Times reported.
Some Mexican farmworkers travel to the U.S. and Canada for work, while others go to northern states such as Baja California to work on large export-based farms. Protests began last March over working conditions and wages on farms in the San Quintín Valley.
Those issues have not yet been resolved.
Many migrant workers are among the indigenous people in Mexico and come from southern states such as Oaxaca.
Source: Huffington Post (en)