Thai worker settlements with Hawaii farms at risk

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

HONOLULU (AP) — A federal judge in Hawaii says she won't consider approving $2.4 million in settlements for hundreds of Thai farm workers until the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds a press conference clarifying that the agreements are still subject to court approval.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi is ordering the agency to hold the press conference by Friday. She says the EEOC didn't follow rules when they filed the agreements. EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Park says it was a procedural oversight.

The agency announced in June that it had reached settlement agreements with four Hawaii farms over allegations that they exploited workers. Kobayashi says the EEOC should have waited to do so until she approved the settlements.

She says the EEOC gave the misleading impression the settlements were final.