Mexican Veterinarians Sue Idaho Dairy for Human Trafficking [UPDATE]
The manager of an Idaho dairy named in a human trafficking lawsuit declined to comment on the allegations Thursday, saying they hadn't yet been notified of the legal action.
"As of right now we've not been notified of any lawsuit against Funk Dairy," said dairy manager Curtis Giles. "We care about our employees and make sure they're being taken care of in all aspects of their employment."
Six Mexican veterinarians who say they were recruited to work at an Idaho dairy farm as animal scientists have filed a federal human trafficking lawsuit against the dairy's owners and the lawyer who arranged work visas, claiming they were instead forced to work as laborers, milking cows and shoveling manure for about a year.
The veterinarians had been promised that they would oversee animal health and reproduction programs at Funk Dairy Inc. in the small southern Idaho town of Murtaugh and were brought to the U.S. on TN visas for professionals from Mexico and Canada, said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boise on Tuesday.
Named as defendants were Funk owner David Funk, manager Curtis Giles and attorney Jeremy Pittard, who the lawsuit said arranged their visas. The telephone rang unanswered Wednesday at the dairy. Pittard, a public defense and family immigration attorney, said he did his job after being asked by Funk Dairy to help arrange the visas but could not comment on working conditions for the veterinarians.
The lawsuit claims the veterinarians were illegally forced to work as general laborers despite having professional worker visas, received substandard housing and lower wages than promised and were threatened with deportation if they did not do their assigned work well. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages under federal laws to fight human trafficking and target criminal conspiracies.
The alleged trafficking scheme represented "the fraudulent recruitment of professional Mexican veterinarians for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws and hiring workers as low-wage, general laborers," the lawsuit said.
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