Students with disabilities in Hillsborough County, Fla., were deprived of special education services required by law and subjected to harsh punishment that pushed them along a path to incarceration. The Southern Poverty Law Center, joined by the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, filed a class action administrative complaint to bring Hillsborough County schools into compliance with federal special education law and end practices that exclude or isolate children with disabilities.
Migrant farmworker Victor Marquez was traveling to his hometown in Querétero, Mexico, to pay for his new home, only to have his life savings seized by police who alleged it was drug money. During the May 5, 2008, traffic stop in Loxley, Ala., a police officer confiscated more than $19,000 from Marquez even though he earned a majority of the money by working the bean harvest in south Florida. Marquez was not charged. The Southern Poverty Law Center won the return of the money after the state refused to provide documents and information requested by SPLC lawyers representing Marquez.
Immigrant workers hired to repair storm-damaged apartments in New Orleans were routinely cheated out of wages and endured forced labor while living in crowded and dilapidated employer-provided housing. This federal lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, together with the Pro Bono Project and the National Employment Law Project, alleges the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Victims of Trafficking Protection Act.
Hundreds of guest workers from India, lured by false promises of permanent U.S. residency, paid tens of thousands of dollars each to obtain temporary jobs at Gulf Coast shipyards only to find themselves forced into involuntary servitude and living in overcrowded, guarded labor camps. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the workers, David v. Signal International, LLC. Three years later, a lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC v. Signal International, LLC,alleging Signal unlawfully discriminated against the Indian guest workers.
At the Calcasieu Parish Public School System in Louisiana, students with disabilities or emotional disturbances were deprived of the educational services required under federal law. The SPLC filed a class administrative complaint against the school district and reached a negotiated settlement agreement ensuring the services are provided and these students are not arbitrarily removed from class.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit on behalf of mentally ill girls living at the Columbia Training School who were shackled, physically and sexually abused, and provided with inadequate mental health treatment.
A federal judge has held Candy Brand and its individual owners accountable for routinely cheating migrant farmworkers out of wages. The court also held that the company’s failure to pay overtime wages and reimburse workers’ expenses was a breach of Candy Brand’s contract with each worker it exploited. As a result, the company and owners will be required to satisfy any judgment, which could be over $2 million dollars.
The Holmes County School District in Mississippi was systematically violating the rights of students with disabilities by failing to provide them with the educational services required under federal law. The district has agreed to a plan that will help ensure students with disabilities are identified and given educational services required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) and four Klansmen, saying several members were on a recruiting mission for the group in July 2006 when they savagely beat a teenage boy at a county fair in Kentucky. A jury found IKA leader Ron Edwards and two other members responsible for the attack and awarded $2.5 million to the teen. The SPLC moved to seize Edwards’ interest in the IKA headquarters to satisfy the judgment.