U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company Favored Mexican Workers Over American Workers, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA – Hamilton Growers, Inc., doing business as Southern Valley Fruit and Vegetable, Inc., subjected American workers to discrimination based on their national origin at its Norman Park, Ga., location, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed recently.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company engaged in a pattern or practice of firing virtually all American workers while retaining workers from Mexico during the 2009 and 2010 growing seasons. The agency also alleges that the employer fired at least 16 African American workers in 2009 based on race and/or national origin when their termination was coupled with race-based comments by a management official. The lawsuit also alleges the employer provided lesser job opportunities to American workers, which resulted in their earning less pay than their Mexican counterparts, and subjected American workers to different terms and conditions of employment, including less desirable job assignments.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of national origin and race. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No., 7:11-CV-00134-HL) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for 19 persons who filed charges with the agency and for other American workers harmed by the practices. The agency is also seeking injunctive relief designed to stop the discrimination and prevent it from recurring in the future.
“The EEOC has reason to believe that the practices alleged in the lawsuit are relatively common in the industry,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.“The EEOC is committed to protectingAmerican workers from arbitrary firings and disparate treatment due to national origin.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.