Plant manager pleads ignorance on wages

July 16, 1992

The manager of an Eastern Shore seafood plant sued by Mexican migrant workers who allege that he mistreated them says he did not know the workers were entitled to the federal minimum wage.

Philip J. Harrington III said American workers were always paid for each pound of crab meat they picked, and not the minimum wage.

He testified Tuesday in a civil lawsuit filed by 15 of the workers against the Philip J. Harrington and Son Seafood Co. in Secretary. The workers maintain they were fired after complaining about wages and working conditions.

Mr. Harrington, 21, said he took the advice of a North Carolina laborcontractor and paid the Mexican workers a piecework "training wage," less than what he paid his American workers. He said he was unaware the practice was discriminatory.

Closing arguments in the lawsuit, which alleges violations of U.S. labor standards and the workers' civil rights, are set for Aug. 14.

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