Plant City Strawberry Farmer Sued By Workers

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Dozens of Hondurans hired to pick strawberries in the Tampa Bay-area say they were forced to pay illegal recruitment fees.

Fort Myers-based Florida Rural Legal Services filed a lawsuit this week in Tampa federal court on behalf of 51 workers who picked strawberries two years ago for Fancy Farms in Plant City.

The workers’ attorney, Gladys Andrea Ortega, says the farm failed to protect workers from exploitation.

She tells The Tampa Tribune that the recruiter threatened to harm the workers and their families if they complained about the fees.

David Stefany, the attorney for the farm’s owner, says his client is cooperating in an ongoing investigation of the recruiter.

The workers are seeking reimbursement for the recruitment fees and up to $4,000 each in additional damages, as well as attorney and court fees.