Sunrise Labor Accused of Brutal Practices Against Migrant Workers: Four Horrific Allegations
The sugar-cane fields of Belle Glade have long been a stopover for migrant workers who earn measly wages in exchange for weeks of backbreaking labor in oppressive conditions.
The four plaintiffs, identified only as John Doe I-IV, claim that Sunrise Labor employees Salvador Hernandez, Francisco Hernandez, and Claudia Hernandez smuggled migrant workers into the U.S. for a fee, then shuttled the workers around to sites in Florida, New York, Georgia, Mississippi, and Illinois.
Defendant SALVADOR HERNANDEZ often distributed Plaintiffs' and other migrant farmworkers' wages while holding a handgun in his lap.To ensure that workers continued to work at a brutal pace, Defendant SALVADOR HERNANDEZ carried and brandished a handgun as he paced the fields where Plaintiffs and other migrant farmworkers worked. At times, to intimidate Plaintiffs and other migrant farmworkers, he shot birds and other objects located in the fields with the handgun.As a result of Defendant SALVADOR HERNANDEZ'S threats to other migrant farmworkers and brandishing of his handgun, Plaintiffs felt they had no choice but to work under harsh conditions, and continued to do so despite illness, fatigue, injury, or ill effects from the heat.
Beginning Summer 2006 and continuing through Fall 2009, Defendants SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, and CLAUDIA HERNANDEZ began making threats of violence and repeated, obscene, offensive, and discriminatory jokes concerning the sexual orientation of John Does I and II and others in the presence of other migrant farmworkersDue to the instigation of Defendants SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, and CLAUDIA HERNANDEZ, migrant farmworkers began sexually assaulting and physically and mentally abusing John Does I and IIDue to the instigation of Defendants SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, and CLAUDIA HERNANDEZ, in King Ferry, New York, migrant farmworkers used a rifle belonging to Defendant SALVADOR HERNANDEZ to mentally abuse John Doe IIWhen told of the sexual assaults and physical and mental abuse, DefendantsSALVADOR HERNANDEZ, FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, and CLAUDIA HERNANDEZ treated the events as a joke; made obscene, offensive, and discriminatory jokes concerning the events; denied John Does I and II medical treatment; and threatened to call ICE.
In Belle Glade, Florida, Defendants housed John Does II, III, and IV in isolated, overcrowded, and unsanitary conditions. Housing consisted of two-bedroom trailers that housed between ten and twelve migrant farmworkers. The trailers suffered rodent and insect infestations, holes in the roofs and floors, and non-functioning bathrooms.Defendants charged John Does II, III, and IV varying amounts of at least $100 per month as purported "rent" for this housing which Defendants unlawfully withheld from the wages paid to John Does II, III, and IV.In Bainbridge, Georgia, John Doe II was housed in a four-bedroom house with approximately 25 other workers; he was forced to sleep on the floor. The bathroom was unsanitary and the house did not have a functioning refrigerator.
After John Does I, II, and III left the employ of Defendant SUNRISE LABOR,Defendants SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, and CLAUDIA HERNANDEZ threatened the lives of John Does I, II, and III such that John Does I, II, and III fear for their lives and the lives of their families.On at least one occasion, Defendant SALVADOR HERNANDEZ threatened tohire someone to beat up or kill a migrant farmworker that had fallen ill.Additionally, after John Doe II sought required medical treatment after a physical assault, Defendant SALVADOR HERNANDEZ placed John Doe II in additional physical danger by informing the migrant farmworkers that John Doe II was to blame if ICE began deporting them.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.
- Schlitterbahn Owner: I'm Psyched to Build Waterpark in Fort Lauderdale
- DOJ: Harlem Suarez, Inspired by ISIS, Planned to Bomb Key West and Miami
- Missing Teen Boaters: Moms on Today Show