Court backs $1.2M fine over disabled workers’ pay

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A court is upholding a $1.2 million state fine for labor violations committed by a Texas labor broker who underpaid dozens of mentally disabled workers at an Iowa turkey processing plant.

The Iowa Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected arguments by Henry’s Turkey Service that the workers were not its employees.

The decision upholds a fine imposed by Iowa Workforce Development to the company for failing to pay minimum wage, failing to provide pay statements and making improper wage deductions for room and board and care for 34 workers.

The men lived in a dilapidated bunkhouse in Atalissa while working at West Liberty Foods. A federal judge has ordered Henry’s Turkey Service to pay $1.76 million for similar violations. A lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission remains pending.