Iowa Jury Awards 32 Intellectually Disabled Men $240 Million, Largest Disability Discrimination Verdict in EEOC History
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that a jury awarded $240 million to 32 intellectually disabled men who abused and discriminated against at a turkey processing plant. This is the largest disability discrimination verdict in EEOC history.
The jury found that owners and staffers of Henry’s Turkey Service in Muscatine County, Iowa violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by handcuffing, kicking, and hitting the men and by referring to them as “retarded,” “stupid,” and “dumb ass.” Henry’s Turkey Service refused to provide the men with health insurance, disability service, or the ability to receive Medicaid from the state of Iowa. The company housed the men in a rundown bunkhouse infested with rodents. The bunkhouse supervisor, Randy Neubauer, allegedly handcuffed one of the residents to his bed at night.
Dr. Sue Gant, an expert on the care and treatment of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, testified at the trial. Gant said:
But how do you put a value on decades of lost opportunity? You can’t recapture those years. ... These men were hidden away for decades, and for others’ personal gain. These were humans who were treated like cattle — like company property, like just another source of income for the company.
The $240 million jury verdict against Henry’s Turkey Service may never be paid by the company, which is thought to have only $4 million in assets. The amount of the verdict also exceeds the damages cap allowed under the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
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