May 8, 2017
On April 17, 2015, Osiel López Pérez slipped while cleaning the liver-giblet chiller at the Case Farms plant in Canton, Ohio. The machine kicked on and “literally ripped off his left leg,” leaving it hanging by a flap of skin and a ligament.
Pérez was a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant from Guatemala. This allowed the company to legally fire him with nothing – no workers’ comp and the barest emergency medical care. The law let them discard him like a damaged piece of meat because he didn’t have papers.
Another Case Farms worker, Evodia González Dimas, lost the use of her left arm from carpal tunnel syndrome. She had worked at the Case Farms plant in Morganton, North Carolina, removing fat and bones from chicken legs. When the company “discovered” that she was undocumented in 2006, they rehired her under another name and helped her get another set of fake papers. When she complained a few months later of pain in her hand, the company claimed she was a new employee, still under probation, not eligible for workers’ comp – and they fired her.
When González sued, the government found that the company “knew exactly what was going on with respect to her employment status” and “took advantage of the situation.” But despite eventually “winning” in court after many years, she got nothing – because the law is set up to serve the corporations and keep the immigrant workers desperate.