Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


September 30, 1974


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bauer, District Judge.


This cause comes before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' amended complaint and for summary judgment.

This case involves a series of alleged contractual, statutory and constitutional breaches committed by Del Monte Corporation ("Del Monte"). Plaintiffs are migrant agricultural workers recruited by Del Monte for employment in their home states of Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky by the defendant through the Federal Interstate Recruitment System. This system was established pursuant to the authority of the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933.*fn1

The system is composed of participating state employment services acting in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In order to utilize the free services of the system an employer like defendant prepares a "clearance order" for a number of workers, stipulating the rate of pay, hours of work, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Del Monte submitted four clearance orders to the Illinois State Employment Service (ISES) prior to the 1973 harvest season. ISES and the regional DOL office approved these orders and transmitted them to labor supply state employment service offices for the recruitment of workers.

Plaintiffs contend that the relevant terms and conditions of employment contained in these orders were: (1) job positions as packing plant workers or tractor drivers; (2) workers "will be expected to work up to 15 hours per day or 70 hours or more per week. Average hours worked on a seasonal basis is 50 to 55 hours per week. Crop, weather conditions and/or labor supply available may alter this average and result in fewer or more hours per week." (3) "Deductions for all advances will not be in excess of those permitted under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other statutes."

Plaintiffs were recruited pursuant to these clearance orders in employment service offices in Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas. Plaintiffs Hemphill, Hooks, Jones and Thorbes claim by way of affidavit they were specifically offered tractor driver jobs under clearance order V-Ill-12. The other plaintiffs allegedly were offered in-plant work. Supposedly all plaintiffs were told at the time of recruitment by either employment service personnel or other agents of defendant that work would begin immediately upon plaintiffs' arrival at defendant's plants in Illinois.

Defendant advanced to plaintiffs the cost of transportation to Illinois. Plaintiffs left their homes and traveled to defendant's plants.

Upon arriving at defendant's plants, plaintiffs found little or no work. Plaintiffs Martinez, Ramirez and Fernandez received no work. Plaintiffs Hemphill, Hooks, Jones and Thorbes were never given the probation period as tractor drivers. Instead, they claim they received infrequent employment as in-plant workers, a lower-paying position, or no work at all. The other plaintiffs found themselves in the same position. Those plaintiffs who did receive work had large deductions taken from their paychecks to satisfy their debts. The deductions left many of the plaintiffs with small or negative paychecks. Part of the plaintiffs' claim is that these deductions were made without plaintiffs' executing valid wage assignments or being subject to wage deduction orders. They argue that this system, by forcing plaintiffs into debt, and then requiring plaintiffs to work off the debt before plaintiffs could leave defendant's employ, constitutes peonage (Count III). And that defendant used this system to maintain a reserve labor pool for peak work periods.

As to the wages paid, plaintiffs contend that they were often below the federal minimum wage. Thus, defendant allegedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (Count V).

Plaintiffs originally filed suit in July of 1973 seeking emergency injunctive relief against Del Monte, the Illinois Department of Labor, and the United States Department of Labor, and their respective administrative heads. After extensive hearings on July 25, 27 and 30 of 1973 on plaintiffs request for a temporary restraining order, Judge McMillen refused to enter such an order, but urged the parties to reach agreement on future recruitment activities under the approved clearance orders. On August 13, 1973, the plaintiffs and all defendants filed a detailed stipulation representing the satisfactory resolution of the matters with respect to which the plaintiffs had sought injunctive relief. There remained plaintiffs' request for declaratory and monetary relief.

On August 21, 1973 defendant Del Monte filed its motion to dismiss the complaint for equitable, declaratory, monetary and other relief, pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the grounds that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and that the complaint failed to set forth a claim upon which relief could be granted. This motion was fully briefed by the parties pursuant to Local Rule 13. On December 17, 1973, the Illinois Department of Labor and United States Department of Labor, and their respective administrative heads, were dismissed from the lawsuit by virtue of stipulations entered with the plaintiffs whereby those defendants agreed to process interstate clearance orders in a specified manner (see U.S. Department of Labor letter of November 30, 1973 and Illinois Department of Labor Stipulation of December 17, 1973).

On December 27, 1973, this Court granted defendant Del Monte's motion to dismiss. Thereafter plaintiffs filed an ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.