Georgia Farming Company Pays to Settle EEOC Racial Discrimination Claims

The agricultural guest worker program known as H-2A, which allows farmers to hire foreign agricultural migrant workers under specific visas, is not without controversy.  Now one farming company in Georgia is paying $500,000 to settle claimsthat it discriminated against American workers in favor of Mexican migrant workers.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Hamilton Growers, Inc., which does business as Southern Valley Fruit and Vegetable, Inc. has settled claims that it allegedly discriminated against U.S.-born African-American workers in favor of workers from Mexico, in violation of federal laws against racial or national origin discrimination.

A group of American farm workers alleged that the Norman Park, Georgia-based company favored Mexican workers because they were less likely to complain about working conditions, due to the fact that their presence in the country was employer-sponsored.  American worker Sherry Tomason, one of the plaintiffs, told the New York Times that, “They like the Mexicans because they are scared and will do anything they tell them to.”

The EEOC spent more than two years investigating claims that American workers were not hired, denied opportunities to work, or assigned lesser job tasks, such as being assigned to pick vegetables in fields that Mexican workers had already picked, which resulted in the American workers receiving less pay.

As part of the settlement agreement, Hamilton Growers has promised it will work in good faith to hire and retain qualified American workers, including African-Americans.  The company has promised non-discriminatory hiring practices, recruitment for American workers, training for EEOC best practices, and equal opportunities for all workers regardless of race or national origin.

When your California business employs hourly workers, and needs advice on non-discrimination practices, or other labor and employment matters, or you  feel that you are being treated unfairly based on your race or national origin, you can turn to Gray & Associates. Attorney Nancy Gray represents California businesses and individuals in all aspects of labor and employment law, including resolving hourly wage disputes, developing policies and best practices for human resources, and addressing potential labor and employment claims.  Put a committed, knowledgeable labor and employment attorney to work for your business today.   Call Attorney Gray at (310) 452-1211 or visit Gray & Associates online for a free consultation.

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