Cesar Neron Martinez Rodriguez at work in the Funk Dairy in Murtaugh, Idaho in 2015.
Six Mexican veterinarians who say they were recruited to work at an Idaho dairy industry claim that they are instead of forced to work as a laborer, milking cows and shoveling manure for about a year.
They have filed a federal human trafficking case against the dairy owners and the lawyer who arranged work visa.
Cesar Martinez-Rodriguez, Dalia Padilla-Lopez, Mayra Munoz-Lara, Brenda Gastelum-Sierra, Leslie Ortiz-Garcia and Ricardo Neri-Camacho say that their employers exploited their fear, inability to speak English, and unfamiliarity with the American legal system to force them to stay in the dairy-from 2014-2015.
They say they had promised that they would supervise the animal health and reproduction programs on Funk Dairy, Inc. in the small southern Idaho town of Murtaugh. They were brought to the U.S. on a TN visa for professionals from Mexico and Canada, according to the lawsuit filed at the U. S. District Court in Boise.
The men say that they received substandard housing and lower wages than promised and were threatened with deportation if they did not do their job well.
They also say that they were denied meal breaks, were forced to eat the meals in unhygienic work stations, around the cows that there is not enough protective equipment and portable toilets on the site for all dairy workers.
They are seeking unknown damages under the federal legislation to combat trafficking in human beings and target criminal conspiracies.
The alleged trading scheme represented “the fraudulent recruitment of professional Mexican veterinarians for the purpose of evading the U.S. immigration laws and the hiring of workers with low wages of general workers,” the lawsuit said.
“I’m not sure that I can speculate about the reason why the company chose this route, but in general, agriculture companies struggle with labor shortages,” said the lawyer of the vets, Edgar Ivan Aguilasocho . “As far as we can see, this criminal conspiracy was aimed at an improvised solution for that kind of deficit.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.