Dairy official says he hasn't seen human trafficking lawsuit

This 2015 self-portrait by César Nerón Martínez Rodríguez shows him at work at the Funk Dairy in Murtaugh, Idaho. He is one of six veterinarians who say they were recruited from Mexico to work at the Idaho dairy farm as animal scientists, but were instead forced to work as laborers, milking cows and shoveling manure for about a year. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, they filed a federal human trafficking lawsuit against the dairy's owners and the lawyer who arranged work visas. (César Nerón Martínez Rodríguez via AP)
This 2015 provided by Brenda E Gastelum Sierra shows César Nerón Martínez Rodríguez in a pen for newborn calves at the Funk Dairy in Murtaugh, Idaho. He is one of six veterinarians who say they were recruited from Mexico to work at the Idaho dairy farm as animal scientists, but were instead forced to work as laborers, milking cows and shoveling manure for about a year. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, they filed a federal human trafficking lawsuit against the dairy's owners and the lawyer who arranged work visas. (Brenda E Gastelum Sierra via AP)
This 2015 self-portrait by César Nerón Martínez Rodríguez shows him at work at the Funk Dairy in Murtaugh, Idaho. He is one of six veterinarians who say they were recruited from Mexico to work at the Idaho dairy farm as animal scientists, but were instead forced to work as laborers, milking cows and shoveling manure for about a year. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, they filed a federal human trafficking lawsuit against the dairy's owners and the lawyer who arranged work visas. (César Nerón Martínez Rodríguez via AP)

BOISE, Idaho — The manager of an Idaho dairy named in a human trafficking lawsuit declined to comment on the allegations Thursday, saying they hadn't yet been notified of the legal action.

Six Mexican veterinarians filed the lawsuit against Funk Dairy Inc. in Boise's U.S. District Court earlier this week, contending they were recruited to work at the southern Idaho facility as animal scientists, but instead were forced to work as general laborers for about a year.

"As of right now we've not been notified of any lawsuit against Funk Dairy," said dairy manager Curtis Giles. "We care about our employees and make sure they're being taken care of in all aspects of their employment."

Giles is one of the named defendants, along with dairy owner David Funk and immigration attorney Jeremy Pittard. Earlier this week, Pittard said his only involvement in the case was to help arrange visas at the request of the dairy. Pittard declined comment on the working conditions at the dairy because he didn't visit it, but said the business had a good reputation in the area.

The lawsuit claims the veterinarians were illegally forced to work as general laborers despite having professional worker visas, received substandard housing and lower wages than promised and were threatened with deportation if they did not do their assigned work well. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages under federal laws to fight human trafficking and target criminal conspiracies.

Veterinarians Cesar Martinez-Rodriguez, Dalia Padilla-Lopez, Mayra Munoz-Lara, Brenda Gastelum-Sierra, Leslie Ortiz-Garcia and Ricardo Neri-Camacho also claimed in the lawsuit that their employers exploited their fear, inability to speak English, and unfamiliarity with the American legal system to force them to stay at the dairy from 2014 to 2015.

Must Read

Rugby couple put respect in front and center in Olympics

Aug 10, 2016

Isadora Cerullo has become a celebrity around Rio, more for what happened on the sidelines of the Olympic rugby stadium than for her performances on the pitch

Kohl's 2Q profit tops expectations as it lowers expenses

Aug 11, 2016

Kohl's 2Q profit beat analysts' expectations as the department store operator reduced expenses and managed its inventory well

Average US 30-year mortgage rate ticks up to 3.45 percent

Aug 11, 2016

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged higher this week, though rates remain at historically low levels. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average for the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 3.45 percent from 3.43 percent last week.

People also read these

WHY IT MATTERS: Health Care

Aug 11, 2016

WHY IT MATTERS: A record 9 in 10 Americans now have health insurance but costs are rising and progress is incomplete

IMF, Egypt agree on $12B loan to fix ailing economy

Aug 11, 2016

The International Monetary Fund says it will grant Egypt a $12 billion loan over three years to help the Arab world's most populous country mend its ailing economy following years of unrest

Kohl's 2Q profit tops expectations as it lowers expenses

Aug 11, 2016

Kohl's 2Q profit beat analysts' expectations as the department store operator reduced expenses and managed its inventory well