Quality Egg of New England LLC and Maine Contract Farming LCC are farms doing business as part of the Austin “Jack” DeCoster egg empire in operation since the early 1960s. The DeCoster operation has been the subject of numerous state and federal investigations and sanctions by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Commission, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Administration, the Maine Human Rights Commission, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

• July 1996: Austin J. “Jack” DeCoster was fined more than $3.6 million by OSHA for mistreatment of workers at his Maine egg farms. Workers had been forced to handle manure and dead chickens with bare hands, and trailers serving as worker housing were filthy and infested.

• June 2002: OSHA fined Maine Contract Farming $345,810 for continually placing workers in danger. At that time, the egg farm already had a documented history of roof collapses. Violations included exposed asbestos, defective eyewash stations, hazardous electrical equipment, uninspected fire extinguishers, unsanitary shower facilities and fall hazards.

• July 2002: DeCoster Egg Farms of Maine agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought against it by Mexican workers who suffered deplorable working conditions.

• 2003: DeCoster agreed to pay $1.3 million in damages to 11 workers at its farms in Wright County, Iowa. The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 2001 had filed a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against DeCoster Farms on behalf of female workers who reported that they had been sexually assaulted and raped by supervisors at DeCoster Farms. The farm was forced to enforce federal anti-harassment and non-retaliation policies at its facility, and to cooperate with EEOC’s ongoing investigation.

• May 2007: The Maine Human Rights Commission heard a complaint filed by former DeCoster manager Cacy Cantwell who claimed that DeCoster fired him and stripped him of company housing on the sole grounds that Cantwell is an atheist. A commission investigator who reviewed the evidence found a reasonable basis for Cantwell’s assertion of religious discrimination.

• August 2008: OSHA cited DeCoster surrogate Maine Contract Farming for willful violations of worker safety laws, based on findings that during the prior winter, the company had forced workers to salvage eggs from inside a dangerously unstable structure that had collapsed from the weight of ice and snow.

Source: Mercy for Animals

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