Mississippi authorities took a newborn baby from her Mexican immigrant mother and placed the daughter with two white Gulf Coast lawyers who frequently practiced law before the youth court judge who approved the child’s removal. The mother was then prohibited from speaking publicly about her family's ordeal despite her request to waive confidentiality rules of the youth court. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the family and appealed the earlier gag order.
The SPLC filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 350 Filipino teachers who were lured to Louisiana to teach in public schools under the federal H-1B guest worker program. The teachers were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars and forced into exploitive contracts. A jury in 2012 ordered a labor recruiting firm and its owner to pay $4.5 million in damages to the teachers.
Children at Sarah T. Reed Elementary School in New Orleans were subjected to unlawful arrest and excessive force – including handcuffing and shackling – for minor violations of school rules. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of a first-grade student handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security officer after the student argued with another youth. A settlement agreement resulted in the school district prohibiting the use of fixed restraints and limiting the use of handcuffs.
Mississippi's mental health system is failing children from low-income households. The state fails to invest in community-based services and instead pumps the bulk of its resources into ineffective, expensive institutions. Parents are often forced to choose between hospitalizing their children or foregoing mental health services altogether.
Frantz Pierre, a migrant farmworker from Haiti, was denied compensation by the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Commission after falling and breaking his right ankle outside company housing. He had just arrived at the 400-acre tomato farm owned by Seaside Farms on St. Helena Island when he slipped on a wet sidewalk outside the workers’ barrack-like dormitory. After the Southern Poverty Law Center took legal action on Pierre’s behalf, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed Pierre's right to compensation and sent the case back to the lower court.
Bernard Monroe Sr., an elderly black man, was shot to death on his front porch by a white police officer who had entered his house in Homer, La., without apparent justification or a warrant. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a wrongful death lawsuit that alleged two white officers created a volatile situation when they entered Monroe’s property during a gathering of his family and friends on Feb. 20, 2009. A settlement agreement was reached with the town in August 2010.
Hinds County School District officials violated the constitutional rights of a 10th–grader who was expelled for throwing a penny that landed on his school bus driver. The expulsion and subsequent assignment to an alternative school threatens to derail the academic and athletic career of the 16-year-old boy, a good student who dreamed of a collegiate basketball scholarship.
Children and teens held at the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi were subjected to shockingly inhumane treatment. The youths endured physical and mental abuse as they were crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with pepper spray for minor infractions. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Lauderdale County and reached a settlement agreement to end the abuses.
A Latina factory worker in North Carolina was brutally assaulted by the plant manager after she had earlier reported his sexual harassment to officials of the yarn company that employed her, according to a federal court complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Children held at the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi endured squalid conditions and horrific physical and mental abuse that violated their civil rights. They were forced to endure shackling, physical assaults by staff, confinement to vermin-infested cells and overcrowded, unsanitary conditions that resulted in widespread contraction of scabies and staph infections. The detention center also failed to provide children with adequate medical and mental health care during their confinement. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in a settlement agreement to protect children and teens detained at the center from abuse and neglect.