Sanders Farm and Associated FLC Settle Federal Wage Lawsuit for $39,500

The Farmworker Rights Division of Georgia Legal Services filed a federal lawsuit on May 1, 2015, Cruz-Vasquez, et al. v. Sanders Farms, Inc., et al., United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Civ. Act. No. 6:15-cv-48. We represented 9 H-2A workers who alleged violations of federal minimum wage law and breach of contract against Sanders Farms, Inc., Sanders Brothers, LLC and labor contractor Bartolo L. Hernandez.  Another 6 H-2A workers joined the suit as Opt-In Plaintiffs.  Before any responsive pleadings were filed, the parties reached a settlement in the amount of $39,500.

The Sanders Defendants compensated Plaintiffs $30,000 in damages and paid $1,500 as attorneys’ fees. Plaintiffs received a total award of $7,500 from Defendant Hernandez who also paid an additional $500 in court costs. Also, the Sanders Defendants promised to offer Plaintiffs and Opt-In Plaintiffs employment through the fall of 2018 should their operations require hand-harvest labor, and Defendant Hernandez promised that neither he nor certain close relatives would recruit, hire, or supervise any H-2A workers through the fall of 2020. The parties petitioned the Court for approval of the settlement agreement, as required under the Fair Labor Standards Act and related caselaw. The Court approved the settlement on July 21, 2016.

5 H-2A Workers’ Claims Settled for $10,000

The Farmworker Rights Division of Georgia Legal Services filed a federal lawsuit on December 23, 2014, Ajiatas-Solval v. Cisco Produce, Inc., U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Civ. Act. No. 1:14-cv-197. We represented 5 former H-2A workers who alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, against David Francisco-Baltazar, a former labor contractor and his corporate entity, Cisco Produce, Inc.  The suit alleged a number of threats, recruitment, and wage violations meant to scare the workers into acceptance of substandard wages and working conditions. After being served, the Defendant filed for bankruptcy, triggering an automatic stay of the suit, but the Court subsequently lifted the stay.

In the Fall of 2015, claims of contract violations against a blueberry grower and two corporate entities that allegedly participated in procuring the workers were amended into the complaint. Jamestown Blueberries, Inc., Van-Adams Blueberry Corp., and Jerry Vanerwegen of Homerville, GA settled the workers’ claims for $10,000. The Court granted a joint petition for dismissal of the remaining claims and counterclaims on July 19, 2016.

J&R Baker Farms to Pay $205,000 to Settle EEOC Race and National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit


Georgia Farm Favored Foreign Workers Over American and African-American Workers, Federal Agency Charged

ATLANTA – J&R Baker Farms, located in Norman Park, Ga., will pay $205,000 to settle a national origin and race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

EEOC filed suit on Aug.28, 2014, alleging that Baker Farms violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it subjected American and African-American workers to disparate terms and conditions of employment based on their national origin and/or race, including segregated buses, segregated work crews, and differences in production standards, work assignments, and other conditions of work. The complaint further alleged since at least the fall of 2010, Baker Farms engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawfully terminating qualified American and/or African-American workers and replacing them with foreign-born workers.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the case, Baker Farms will pay $205,000 to resolve the litigation which sought relief for 119 workers. In addition to awarding monetary relief, the consent decree requires Baker Farms to revise its hiring practices, offer equal opportunity training for employees, adopt and implement an anti-discrimination policy, and comply with reporting, monitoring, and notice posting provisions. The settlement also resolves claims brought by some of the individual workers who had intervened under 42 U.S.C. §1981 and under the Agricultural Workers Protection Act.

“Employers have an obligation to provide a fair workplace, without discriminating against workers because of a worker’s national origin or race,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

“Discrimination claims can arise from simple denial of employment,” said Lynette Barnes, acting regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office. “They can also arise from a pattern or practice of rules, requirements, and policies that disadvantage certain workers because of their race or national origin.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at

See the original press release online.

GLSP Note: The Farmworker Rights Division of Georgia Legal Services represented 19 U.S. workers who were the charging parties in this suit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as 7 similarly-situated class members. GLSP intervened on our clients’ behalf and added claims for violation of the Agricultural Worker Protection Act.


Mundo Hispanico Entrevista al Abogado Dawson Morton Sobre el Pacto con Southern Valley y Hamilton Growers

Una de las empresas agrícolas más grandes de Georgia ha acordado pagar $485,000 dólares para resolver una demanda federal en la que participaron unos 90 trabajadores agrícolas extranjeros y nacionales.

La demanda en la corte federal para el Distrito Medio de Georgia afirmó que la agroindustria, basada en Norman Park, Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable, Inc. Y Hamilton Growers, Inc., pagaron a los trabajadores agrícolas muy por debajo del salario mínimo, no pagaron horas extras y no les pagaron por todas las horas trabajadas.

Publicado en Mundo Hispanico, 11 de noviembre de 2015

Vea el video en Mundo Hispanico

Swift Straw II, LLC Settles Pre-Litigation with Guatemalan Workers

We recently represented 11 Guatemalan H-2B forestry workers who raked and baled pine straw near Moultrie, GA for Atlanta area businessman Matthew Lowe and his company Swift Straw II LLC, a “full service vertically integrated pine straw company” operating across the Southeast.  The workers retained us to vindicate their rights for violations of federal laws that protect agricultural workers, including minimum wage violations and poor housing conditions.  We prepared a federal lawsuit on behalf of the workers, but eventually reached a pre-litigation settlement with Mr. Lowe and his company, recovering more than $21,000 in unpaid wages and other damages.

Recientemente representamos a 11 guatemaltecos que vinieron a EE.UU. con visa H -2B como trabajadores forestales que trabajaron en pino cerca de Moultrie, GA para Matthew Lowe, un empresario de Atlanta, y su compañía Swift Straw II, LLC, que opera en todo el sureste. Los trabajadores contrataron a Servicios Legales para vindicar sus derechos por violaciones de las leyes federales que protegen a los trabajadores agrícolas, incluso violaciones de salario mínimo y las malas condiciones de vivienda. Preparamos una demanda federal en nombre de los trabajadores, pero al final llegamos a un acuerdo antes de ir a la corte con el Sr. Lowe y su compañía, recuperando más de $21.000 por salarios no pagados y otros daños.

Georgia Farmworkers’ Settlement with Stanley Farms Hits the Press

On June 23, a Southern District of Georgia Federal Court judge approved the consent order drawn up between farm worker Plaintiffs and Defendant Stanley Farms. In addition to the $92,500 the Farm agreed to pay in backwages to workers and litigation fees, there are provisions for important non-monetary changes that we hope to see have a broader effect for workers.

Read the AJC Coverage

Read the Athens Banner Herald Article

Read Coverage in The Packer

Hendrix Produce, Inc. To Pay Over $100,000 to Settle Lawsuit Brought by Farmworkers

One of the biggest Vidalia onion farms in Georgia agreed to pay more than $100,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by farm workers. The settlement was the subject of an article published in Atlanta’s biggest newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Read the article in the AJC here.

In the lawsuit, 30 workers alleged that Hendrix Produce, Inc. and farm labor contractor Yesenia Merino paid them well below the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour from 2009 to 2012. Last week, a federal judge approved the settlement. As part of the settlement, the workers will receive more than $60,000 in back wages and job-related reimbursements. One of the workers, Antonio Hernandez-Hernandez, said: “We fought for our rights, and I am glad that justice was done.”

Uno de los principales ranchos de cebollas Vidalia en Georgia acordó pagar más de $100,000 en un acuerdo extrajudicial para poner fin a una demanda civil presentada por trabajadores mexicanos y guatemaltecos contratados por medio de visas H-2A. 

El acuerdo fue sujeto de un artículo publicado en el periódico principal de Atlanta, el Atlanta Journal-Constitution. El enlace está aquí:

En la demanda, 30 trabajadores alegaron que el rancho Hendrix Produce, Inc. y su contratista laboral, Yesenia Merino, les pagaron muy por debajo del salario mínimo federal de $7.25 por hora en las temporadas del 2009 al 2012. La semana pasada, un juez federal aprobó el pacto. Como parte del acuerdo, los trabajadores, de México y Guatemala, recibirán más de $60,000 en pagos atrasados y reembolsos relacionados a sus gastos de trabajo. Uno de los trabajadores, Antonio Hernandez-Hernandez, dijo: “Peleamos nuestro derecho, y me alegra que se hizo justicia.”