For employees at the Moreno Farms packing plant in remote Hendry County, a coveted job working indoors in air conditioning sorting vegetables turned into a living nightmare. The two brothers who ran the place — Miami-raised Oscar and Omar Moreno — and their foreman, Javier Garcia, systemically harassed and raped the migrant women they supervised.
Even worse, when the victims went to the local sheriff’s office, nothing was done — despite three women going on record to describe their rapes. But today those women finally received a measure of justice. A federal jury has awarded them a $17.42 million judgment against Moreno Farms, one of the biggest verdicts ever for mistreatment of farmworkers.
“I’m thrilled because this jury’s verdict sends a message to every other woman working in Florida’s fields,” says Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the Miami office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC brought the case on behalf of five women who worked at Moreno Farms between 2011 and 2012. Three testified on the record that they’d been raped multiple times in coolers and trailers located at the packing plant. Two other women recounted attempted rapes they had escaped. And all five testified how they had later been fired for resisting the Moreno brothers’ and Garcia’s attacks.
Read more: miaminewtimes.com