Did you know that harvesting oranges can be backbreaking work or that migrants may have been exploited to increase profits? Mexican farmworkers carrying up to 110 pounds of oranges around their necks were pressured to pick quickly.
Guaranteed $9.96/hour, they ended up being paid by the satchel instead, earning less than promised and less than minimum wage. A lawsuit was filed in Florida on behalf of the exploited workers. The court required signatures within 15 days but many of the workers had already returned to Mexico. Undeterred by the dangers ahead, a Justice in Motion Defender drove for more than two hours into a remote and politically unstable region of Oaxaca to get a worker’s signature. Finding that heavy rains had washed away the road, she continued on foot for another 2 hours until she found the worker. The Defender’s efforts paid off. Damages were awarded to the plaintiffs and working conditions improved. The broader positive outcome was that these and other workers were empowered to speak out against disrespect and abuse.