A former sheepherder says he was forced to work without pay, transportation and barely enough food at a remote Idaho ranch for years. The sheep rancher, meanwhile, says his former employee was semi-retired and lived and ate for free at the ranch, with a personal driver just a phone call away.
Idaho Legal Aid filed a lawsuit in Boise's U.S. District Court last month on behalf of the sheepherder, a permanent legal resident from the Basque region of Spain named Sabino Leibar. But the case highlights the lack of direct oversight for agricultural businesses that rely on foreign workers.
According to the lawsuit, Leibar started working for John Anchustegui in 1981 near the tiny village of Bruneau in the southwestern corner of the state.
Leibar contends Anchustegui stopped paying him regularly in 2009, and that he is now owed nearly $264,000 in back wages. Anchustegui has denied those allegations.