mostlycloudy
Saturday July 4th, 2015 10:43PM

Vidalia onion farmer settles suit filed by workers

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) One of the biggest producers of Vidalia onions has agreed to pay more than $90,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a group of farmworkers. <br /> <br /> A judge on Monday approved the agreement between the group of American farmworkers and Stanley Farms LLC and its managers. The workers and their former co-workers had filed a lawsuit last year alleging they were paid less than minimum wage and less than foreign guest workers who labored alongside them. <br /> <br /> Stanley Farms agreed to pay $92,500, which includes $82,500 in back wages and damages and $10,000 for attorney's fees and costs. The sweet onion producer also agreed to follow certain hiring and employment practices outlined in the agreement. <br /> <br /> According to its website, Stanley Farms grows more than 1,000 acres of onions, as well as other crops and vegetables in southeast Georgia. The family business is owned and operated by R.T. Stanley and his three sons, all of whom were named in the lawsuit. <br /> <br /> The lawsuit said the American farmworkers were hired to pull onions from the ground, clip their roots and stems and put them in buckets. They were paid 40 cents for each 5-gallon bucket, which did not add up to the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. During the period in question, the foreign guest workers were paid between $9.11 and $9.38 an hour, the lawsuit said. <br /> <br /> The farm also didn't pay for the files or shears needed to clip onions and arranged for crew leaders or supervisors to sell those to the workers in the field along with other items, like food, drinks, cigarettes and alcohol further reducing their wages, the lawsuit said. The workers also said they were transported in unsafe vehicles and worked in fields that had recently been sprayed with pesticides. <br /> <br /> Stanley Farms agreed to give U.S. workers the same pay, benefits and working conditions as foreign guest workers brought in on special visas; properly record and compensate all work performed; buy an electronic timekeeping system with each worker assigned a card; use only transportation that is properly inspected and insured has a seat for each passenger; not allow workers to enter fields until 24 hours have passed after the application of certain chemicals; and provide proper tools, among other changes. <br /> <br /> ``We're pleased with the resolution reached, and we're pleased that the farm is agreeing to pay U.S. and foreign workers the same amount, which we don't believe they were doing,'' said Dawson Morton, a lawyer for the workers. <br /> <br /> R.T. Stanley did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday. <br /> <br /> Georgia's Vidalia onions are known for their trademark sweetness that growers say is caused by the soil and climate. By state and federal law, only those onions grown in 13 counties and portions of seven others can carry the Vidalia name.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US stocks post sixth straight year of gains
U.S. stocks ended a strong 2014 with moderate declines Wednesday.
4:43PM ( 6 months ago )
Palestinians push ahead in pursuit of war crimes charges against Israel
Stung by a resounding defeat in the U.N. Security Council, the Palestinians announced Wednesday that they joined the International Criminal Court to pursue war crimes charges against Israel.
1:57PM ( 6 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 6 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 6 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 6 months ago )
Local/State News
Utility drones could inspect equipment, scan for outages
LITHONIA, Ga. (AP) — When tornadoes and hurricanes topple power lines in the future, flying drones might be the first to pinpoint the damage.Power companies across the United States are testing whethe...
4:21PM ( 6 hours ago )
Lobby of new Brenau physical therapy school named for Ralph & Mary Cleveland
In celebration of a major gift to the Brenau University ForeverGold campaign, the lobby of Brenau's physical therapy school at the Brenau Downtown Center was dedicated Friday in memory of Ralph W. Cleveland and in honor of his wife, Mary Cleveland.
By AccessWDUN staff
2:00PM ( 8 hours ago )
USDA to step up bird flu monitoring this fall; aimed at protecting poultry industry
The federal government announced plans Thursday to step up monitoring wild birds for avian influenza this fall to provide an early warning of any resurgence of a disease that devastated poultry farms in the Upper Midwest.
4:25PM ( 2 days ago )
Applications for US jobless aid rise to still-low 281,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but the level of applications is still low and points to an improving job market.The Labor Department says weekly application...
4:15PM ( 2 days ago )
US unemployment falls to 7-year low, but wages are flat
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. unemployment fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent and employers hired at a solid pace in June, but other gauges of the job market drew a bleaker picture: A wave of people sto...
2:41PM ( 2 days ago )