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May 31, 2006
Judge Orders Company to Pay $1.24M to 52 Indian Workers

A federal judge has ordered John Pickle Company, Inc. (JPC) and its president, John Pickle, to pay $1.24 million to 52 skilled laborers whom the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said were recruited from India and then subjected to widespread abuse, intimidation, and exploitation.

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In its lawsuit, the EEOC accused the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based oil industry parts manufacturer of committing national origin discrimination against a group of welders, fitters, electricians, engineers, and cooks. The workers alleged that the company subjected them to fraud and deceit, inadequate pay, substandard living conditions, false imprisonment, lockdowns with an armed guard, phone tapping, food rationing, restrictions on freedom to worship, degrading job assignments, ethnic slurs, intimidation, and the non-payment of wages earned. 

The workers said that the company paid them between $1.00 and $3.17 per hour. The EEOC says the company paid non-Indian employees approximately $14.00 per hour for performing the same type of skilled work.

Federal District Court Judge Claire V. Eagan's 71-page decision followed two earlier trials and prior "Findings of Fact and Conclu­sions of Law" issued in August 2004.  The EEOC's lawsuit was joined with a related civil action that the workers filed on their own behalf alleging false imprisonment, minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), deceit, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The total damages awarded by the court addressed the claims in both the government's suit and the private action.

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