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28 disabled employees are awarded $600k for their exploitation

Henry's Turkey Service, headquartered in Texas, is being accused of abusing 28 men with intellectual disabilities. The plaintiffs were allegedly being underpaid and resided within inhumane living conditions. Thirty-two men had apparently been subjected to the abuse, and four since have died. The disabled employees worked for the turkey plant in another state and were given room and board in an old school house.

The men performed tasks that most people would not enjoy, including removing the innards of the turkeys. The plaintiffs were allegedly only receiving $65 per month after the cost of their living accommodations and sporadic leisurely activities were deducted. As time went on, there were complaints issued and investigations published about the company and the living arrangements of the workers, but everything remained the same.

In 2009, the sister of one of the plaintiff's approached authorities when she discovered that after 40 years, her brother didn't even possess $100. An investigation was conducted that discovered that the men were apparently not in good mental or physical health. The schoolhouse in which they lived did not have proper maintenance and had a leaking ceiling and windows that were kept covered with boards. The building also was reportedly infested with pests.

The cased was filed in a Texas federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the disabled employees, and the decision was ruled in their favor. Collecting the award, however, was difficult because the owners of the turkey plant had attempted to move their assets to their adult children. Ultimately, the men were awarded $600,000, which would equate to approximately $25,000 per plaintiff. Although the award cannot reverse what the plaintiff's endured, it can help them toward a better future.

Source: The New York Times, "Judge's Ruling Awards $600,000 to Exploited Workers", Dan Barry, Sept. 18, 2015

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