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Texas farm workers sue agricultural company for poor conditions

Many in Texas are aware of the naturally rough conditions that farm workers in the state must face. In addition to hot weather and difficult manual labor, many workers on farms in Texas spend much of the year moving among different locations depending on where the harvest is. The industry practice is for the employer to provide temporary housing to the workers while they are at a particular location and the conditions for that arrangement are usually a part of the whole agreement that the workers make with the company that hires them.

Unfortunately, as with many employment contracts, not all of the terms are upheld all of the time. For Texas farm workers, this often means substandard living conditions or failure to pay the minimum wage. Recently a group of seven farm workers sued agricultural giant Monstanto for paying them less than originally promise and for providing them with inadequate housing.

Specifically, the workers say that Monsanto paid them less than their previously negotiated rate to detassle corn, which resulted in a net pay that was less than the federally mandated minimum wage. One of the main complaints was about the temporary housing promised to the workers by recruiters. The housing was supposed to be provided free of charge to the employees, but instead the company charged $300 for the motel rooms. The employees had also asked that their housing have a kitchen available. Instead, the company provided an improperly ventilated school bus with several portable stoves inside. The employees also say that they were exposed to dangerous pesticides during the course of their employment.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Seven Say Monstanto Took Them for a Ride," Cameron Langford, July 23, 2012.

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