The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of migrant workers who have faced rampant wage theft by a major farm labor contractor, Lowry Farms, Inc. The guest workers planted sugarcane on farms throughout Louisiana and received pay well below what was required under the law after leaving their homes and families and spending considerable amounts of money to work for Lowry Farms, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to two named plaintiffs, the lawsuit was brought on behalf of approximately 2,000 Mexican migrant workers who also planted sugarcane for Lowry Farms.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas, outlines Lowry Farms’ ongoing failure to comply with federal and state laws that led to the workers earning less than the minimum wage due to improper reimbursement for visa and transportation costs, the underreporting of hours worked, and shifting required business expenses onto the workers.
One of the workers spoke of his treatment saying, “We were treated like slaves; that’s what made me feel the worst.”
The plaintiffs came to the United States on temporary H-2A visas. Their lawsuit seeks restitution of unpaid wages, an award of money damages and a court order requiring the defendants to comply with federal regulations governing the H-2A program.