Posted on September 15, 2021

Lawsuit: Farm Hired White Immigrants Over Black US Laborers

Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press, September 9, 2021

Six Black farmworkers in Mississippi say in a new lawsuit that their former employer brought white laborers from South Africa to do the same jobs they were doing, and that the farm has been violating federal law by paying the white immigrants more for the same type of work.

Mississippi Center for Justice and Southern Migrant Legal Services filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of the six workers against Pitts Farm Partnership, which grows cotton, soybeans and corn in the Mississippi Delta’s Sunflower County.

The lawsuit said the farm violated regulations of a foreign worker visa program, which requires equal treatment of U.S. workers and their immigrant counterparts. {snip}


Four of the plaintiffs — Andrew Johnson, Wesley Reed, Gregory Strong and Richard Strong — said they did agricultural work from February through November and Pitts Farm Partnership usually paid them the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, with $8.25 an hour for weekend work.


The farm paid the white workers from South Africa $9.87 an hour in 2014 and that rate increased most years until it reached $11.83 an hour in 2020, the lawsuit said.


Ty Pinkins of the Mississippi Center for Justice said in the news release that with high unemployment in the Mississippi Delta, “it is unacceptable and unlawful” for farmers to hire outside workers when local residents need jobs.

“Unfortunately, this case is emblematic of a disastrous pattern in the South. Our research indicates that farm owners are increasingly abusing the H-2A program and denying opportunities to U.S. workers,” Pinkins said. {snip}