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.
New regulations for the nation’s H-2B guest worker program, enacted in the waning days of the Bush administration, threatened to weaken worker protections and make it easier to replace U.S. workers with temporary foreign labor. The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of immigrant rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new regulations.
A dozen Latino workers at a Tennessee cheese factory went weeks without pay and endured an abusive work environment before demanding paychecks from an employer, who then had them arrested, jailed and threatened with deportation. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit charging the company, its president and members of the local sheriff’s department with conspiring to violate the rights of the workers.
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.
Students with disabilities in Palm Beach County, Fla., endured a culture of neglect and overly harsh discipline because the school district failed to provide the counseling, social work and psychological services required by law. The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of advocacy groups filed a class action administrative complaint to bring Palm Beach 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.