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Case Name EEOC v. Henry's Turkey Service EE-IA-0023
Docket / Court 3:11-cv-00041 ( S.D. Iowa )
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On April 6, 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. The EEOC sued Henry's Turkey Service, a supplier of workers for poultry processors, on behalf of thirty-two ... read more >
On April 6, 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. The EEOC sued Henry's Turkey Service, a supplier of workers for poultry processors, on behalf of thirty-two men with intellectual disabilities. The EEOC alleged wage violations, disparate treatment, and maintenance of a hostile work environment based on the claimants' intellectual disabilities, and sought money damages and injunctive relief.

The facts, all either admitted or proven true at trial, included that the men were employed by Henry's for a period of more than 30 years and that during this entire 30 year period the men were paid $65 a month, working at least 35 hours per week, and were never paid overtime when they should have been eligible. Non-disabled workers at the same facilities holding the same or similar positions received substantially higher wages. All of the claimants received monthly deposits of Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income into their individual bank accounts. The defendant, by way of an officer listed as Designated Representative Payee on all of these accounts, had sole access to these funds, which according to the defendant were used to "reimburse" the company for the men's "room and board" and "in kind care." The defendant argued that the expense it bore for "room and board" and "in kind care" should be credited toward and justify the men's low wages.

Further allegations, also proven at trial, included that, at least during the period from February 2007 to February 2009, the men were kept in substandard housing in a converted schoolhouse. They were subjected to harsh discipline, including but not limited to being restrained, being confined to rooms, and being denied restroom access. They were denied access to medical care. The men were hit and kicked by supervisors employed by Henry's. They were also subjected to derogatory and humiliating name-calling based on their disabilities.

On June 25, 2012, the EEOC moved for partial summary judgment on the wage violations claims, which the court (Judge Charles R. Wolle) granted on September 18, 2012. The court found that there was no genuine dispute as to any material fact relevant to these claims, and therefore held as a matter of law that the defendant had engaged in unlawful and discriminatory pay practices in violation of the ADA, U.S.C. §12112(a). The EEOC, on behalf of the intellectually disabled employees, was awarded $1,374,266.53 plus prejudgment interest of $283,568.06, an amount based on the comparable market rate for the labor performed from February 2007 through February 2009. EEOC v. Hill Country Farms, 899 F.Supp.2d 827 (S.D. Iowa 2011).

A jury trial on the other claims raised by the EEOC was held from April 23 through April 29, 2013. On May 1, 2013, the jury found for the workers on all claims, including disparate treatment as to the terms or conditions of employment of the intellectually disabled men, and maintenance of a hostile work environment. It found that each of the 32 workers was entitled to $5,500,000 as compensation. The jury also found that the defendant acted with malice or reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of the disabled former employees, and that each of these former employees was entitled to $2,000,000 in punitive damages. The jury, following precedent, was not informed that the ADA and connected statutes capped damages at $50,000 per claimant. 42 U.S.C. §1981a (b)(2), (3)(A). Bound by this statutory limit, the district court entered a judgment on May 14, 2013, for the EEOC for $1,600,000 (equal to $50,000 per claimant) plus an additional $188,329 in interest. This judgment was in addition to the previously issued $1.37 million award of damages and interest for wage discrimination, discussed above.

On May 23, 2013, the parties agreed to injunctive relief which included: [1] a requirement that Henry's or any of Henry's officers that reopen business inform the EEOC; [2] a permanent injunction to stop discriminating; [3] ADA training for employees and supervisors of any successor business; and [4] a requirement that Henry's or its successor business retain a mental health consultant to consider requests for reasonable accommodations.

On June 11, 2013, the District Court (Judge Wolle) entered final judgment approving the injunction agreed to in the May 23rd stipulation, confirming the monetary awards already awarded by the court and added a requirement that Henry's pay the EEOC's costs of $10,487, and the court required the payment of post-judgment interest so long as the judgment remained unpaid.

On August 6, 2013, Henry's appealed the pretrial denial of its summary judgment motion to the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. On May 9, 2014, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the lower court, stating simply that the district court did not err in refusing to vacate the motion for partial summary judgment and that it found no plain error in the admission of any evidence. 564 F. App'x 868 (8th Cir. 2014). There is nothing more in the docket after this holding, but since there was an injunctive remedy, presumably it remains open for enforcement if need be.

As the New York Times reported in September 2015, collecting the money owed to the 32 men in this case, however, was troublesome. The combined judgments in this case and a previous one by the DOJ resulted in Henry’s owing over $3 million. The officers of Henry’s Turkey Service transferred many of their assets to their adult children and heirs; therefore, collection of the funds from the officers themselves proved to be difficult, and satisfaction of the judgment continued to elude the former employees.

However, a land deal concerning a property dispute in Mills County, Texas, where Henry’s Turkey Service was based, piqued the interest of the the EEOC. They asked the United States attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas to monitor this land deal for any suspicious activity. It turned out that this land deal involved a confidential settlement in which about $600,000 would have gone to the heirs of Henry’s Turkey Service, instead of to Henry’s itself or the former employees of involved in this case. Federal officials were said to have found evidence of a “fraudulent transaction” and the U.S. Attorney filed an Emergency Motion for Turnover Order on August 26, 2015 in Case No. 3:12-CV-4737-P in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The motion asserted that the property in question belonged to Henry's, and therefore the court had the authority to turn over the property to the United States. The United States also requested that the court order that the U.S. should receive the $600,000 for application of debt owed of HCF. On September 3, 2015, with leave of the Court, the EEOC filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the motion.

U.S. District Chief Judge Jorge A. Solis granted the Emergency Motion for Turnover Order on September 11, 2015. The order overrode the confidential settlement, re-directing the $600,000 in funds to the United States for application of the judgment for the 32 former employees. Judge Solis wrote that “[t]his was an intentional scheme concocted solely to shield a substantial sum of money from the United States collection efforts. Accordingly, the Court finds… any benefit due to the Estate under the Settlement Agreement is the property of HCF and, as such, is subject to this Court’s authority to aid the United States in obtaining satisfaction of its judgment against Henry and HCF.”

In addition, the EEOC announced in September 2015that it had managed to collect a $272,000 of the the judg­ment through garnishments and liens. Adding in the additional $600,000 from the case before Judge Solis, the EEOC said it would begin distributing $872,000 to the class members. EEOC planned to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Labor for a distribution plan and process.

Brian Kempfer - 02/01/2014
Jessica Kincaid - 04/08/2016
Matt Ramirez - 08/19/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reporting
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-area
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
General
Disparate Treatment
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Hill Country Farm d/b/a Henry's Turkey Service
Plaintiff Description EEOC on behalf of thirty-two men with intellectual disabilities, subjected to allegedly discriminatory work conditions.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2013 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The 'Boys' in the Bunkhouse
Written: Mar. 09, 2014
By: Dan Barry (New York Times)
Citation: N.Y. Times (March 9, 2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No. 3:11-cv-00041 (S.D. Iowa) 04/06/2011
EE-IA-0023-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:12-cv-4737 (N.D. Tex.) 09/11/2015
EE-IA-0023-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Trial Demand 04/06/2011
EE-IA-0023-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment 09/18/2012 (899 F.Supp.2d 827) (S.D. Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intellectually Disabled Workers Awarded $1.3M for Pay Discrimination by Henry's Turkey Service 09/19/2012
EE-IA-0023-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: EEOC.gov
Writ of Garnishment 11/20/2012
EE-IA-0023-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report regarding Settlement 04/01/2013 (S.D. Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Special Verdict Form 05/10/2013 (S.D. Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Post-trial Brief on Damages and Application for Injunctive Relief 05/10/2013
EE-IA-0023-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order for Judgment 05/14/2013 (S.D. Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment in a Civil Case 05/14/2013 (S.D. Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment with Interests and Costs 06/11/2013 (S.D. Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appellate Opinion 05/09/2014 (564 Fed.Appx. 868)
EE-IA-0023-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Turnover Order 08/26/2015
EE-IA-0023-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 09/11/2015 (N.D. Tex.)
EE-IA-0023-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Shields, Thomas J. (S.D. Iowa) [Magistrate]
EE-IA-0023-9000
Solis, Jorge Antonio (N.D. Tex.)
EE-IA-0023-0012 | EE-IA-0023-9001
Wolle, Charles Robert (S.D. Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0003 | EE-IA-0023-0007 | EE-IA-0023-0008 | EE-IA-0023-0009 | EE-IA-0023-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Canino, Robert Anthony (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-0001 | EE-IA-0023-0004 | EE-IA-0023-0006 | EE-IA-0023-9000
Fahey, Megan J. (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-0013 | EE-IA-0023-0014 | EE-IA-0023-9001
Lee, James L. (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-0002
Lopez, P. David (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-0002
Parker, John R (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-0014
Seth, Devika (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cappel, Carrie Roseanne (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-9001
Espinoza, Bethany J. (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-9001
Henry, Kenneth J. (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-9001
Johnson, Randall C. (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-9001
Scieszinski, David L. (Iowa)
EE-IA-0023-0004 | EE-IA-0023-9000
Threadgill, Mark David (Texas)
EE-IA-0023-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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