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.
South Carolina authorities denied Pierre’s claim, saying his accident did not happen during the course of his job duties and that he had not been forced to live in the company housing. The Southern Poverty Law Center took legal action on Pierre’s behalf. The South Carolina Supreme Court on Feb. 16, 2010, overturned the earlier rulings of the compensation commission and lower courts. In its opinion, the Supreme Court concluded that Pierre was essentially required to live on the employer’s premises by the nature of his employment.” The case was sent back to the lower court.