Iowa Reinstates $1.2M Fine Against Texas Firm in Worker Abuse Case

An Iowa official has reinstated a nearly $1.2 million fine against a Texas labor broker accused of exploiting dozens of mentally disabled men.

The Des Moines Register says Henry’s Turkey Service paid more than 70 of the men about 41 cents an hour, plus room and board, to work in a Muscatine County meat plant. They were housed in a decrepit old schoolhouse.

Iowa Workforce Development fined Henry’s for making improper deductions from workers’ pay, failing to pay minimum wage and failing to give pay stubs to workers. Henry’s has denied any wrongdoing.

The company appealed, and an administrative law judge cut the fine to nearly $175,000.

Iowa Workforce Development appealed that decision to state commissioner of workers’ compensation Christopher Godfrey. On Mar. 8, Godfrey reinstated the original fine.

A federal report castigated the company for abusing and underpaying several mentally disabled men who were housed in a ramshackle building while working at an Iowa turkey processing plant.

The report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Henry’s Turkey Service underpaid the men at least $1 million over three years, verbally and physically abused them, and committed several major violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Des Moines Register reported.

The EEOC report was given to the original complainant, Sherri Brown of Arkansas, whose brother Keith worked at the turkey plant. Brown provided the report to the newspaper.

Information from: The Des Moines Register