Farmworkers Receive Over $12,000 In O’Donnell, Texas

West Texas Hispanic News. Lubbock, Texas. Wednesday, January 15, 1986. Vol. 11, No. 9

On November 12, 1985 a federal lawsuit was filed by Texas Rural Legal aid on behalf of a farmworker family against J.T. Forbes of O’Donnell, Texas. The lawsuits alleged that during June, 1985 the Gutierrez family and about 200 other farmworkers were only paid $2.00 per hour for cotton hoeing instead of the federal minimum wage of $3.35. The lawsuit also alleged the family was not provided a toilet or water to drink as required by the Texas Department of Health.

In a settlement shortly after the lawsuit was filed Mr. Forbes agreed to pay the minimum wages owed to the Gutierrez family as well as three other families that also claimed they were damaged in the same way. The minimum wage damages for the twenty-one members of the four families totaled $5,445.33.

“I was pleased we were able to reach a quick and reasonable settlement for the four families, of course, the other 200 farmworkers still retain the right to file their own lawsuits,” said Stephen C. McIntyre, TRLA staff attorney.

In addition to the $5,445.33, J.T. Forbes agreed to pay an additional $5,445.33 in liquidated damages to the four families because they claimed he intentionally failed to pay them the minimum wage. Besides the liquidated damages, Mr. Forbes also agreed to pay $500.00 to each family because of his failure to have toilets and water to drink during their three weeks of cotton hoeing in June, 1985. “I am very happy with the overall settlement. I hope it will serve as a warning to Lamesa area farmers to pay the minimum wage and provide toilers and water for farm workers,” said McIntyre.