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Lawsuit alleges poor treatment of Maine migrant workers

PORTLAND (WGME) -- A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last week alleges hundreds of violations against migrant workers during the 2008 Maine blueberry harvest.

The suit is being filed by Pine Tree Legal on behalf of 18 migrant workers. The defendants are two employers and multiple housing providers.

According to the 302 page complaint, there were more than 250 violations of a federal act designed to protect migrant and seasonal workers.
   
The lawsuit says the workers were recruited to Maine, based on false promises of good wages. It also says the transportation and housing provided to the workers did not meet federal requirements.

"Maine really prides itself in its blueberry harvest and it's just wrong not to follow the rules," said Nan Heald, Executive Director of Pine Tree Legal.

An attorney for Coastal Blueberry Service Inc., of Ellsworth and Hancock Foods of Hancock said he is still reviewing the lawsuit.

The 18 workers are all U.S. Citizens born in Haiti or Haitians who are legal permanent residents.