Readings — From the September 2013 issue

Henry’s Farm

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From documents submitted by Sue Grant, an expert witness, in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Henry’s Turkey Service, the operator of a turkey-processing plant in West Liberty, Iowa, on behalf of thirty-two mentally disabled former workers. Over a period of forty years, until the plant was closed in 2009, the workers there were paid as little as 41 cents an hour, denied medical care, and housed in an unheated former school building in nearby Atalissa. In April, a jury awarded them $7.5 million each in damages.

Johnson McDaniel, sixty years old, reported he lived and worked at the Atalissa turkey farm for thirty years. He described incidents when his crew chief, Danny Miles, would often kick him in the butt.

All the aggrieved men that I met with in Iowa consistently described incidents where Danny Miles and Randy Neubauer would squirt them with a hose and put water in their boots.

Gene Berg told me Randy punished Keith Brown by making him stand in the corner for a “long time” for not “doing his turkeys right.”

Several workers testified Danny Miles yelled at them when he made them walk around the gym with weights while Randy watched and laughed.

Brady Watson told me Tommy Johnson had to stand in the parking lot and hold a heavy fence post “straight overhead . . . as punishment because he messed up on the line.”

Keith told me he did not actually see who handcuffed Tommy Johnson to his bed but he “put two and two together” when he saw Randy go with handcuffs to Tommy’s room and then saw Tommy handcuffed to his bed.

Other punishments, according to the aggrieved workers, included:

     Willie Levi was grounded and could not go to church.
     Carl Wayne Jones had his TV unplugged and his cowboy hat taken away.
     Ronald Lashley was forced to eat hot peppers.
     Several of the aggrieved workers called Randy Neubauer “Dad.”

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