Case Docket

Summaries of our current and historical civil rights cases.

We have a rich history of litigating important civil rights cases on behalf of the most vulnerable in society. Our cases have smashed remnants of Jim Crow segregation; destroyed some of the nation’s most notorious white supremacist groups; and upheld the rights of minorities, children, women, the disabled and others who faced discrimination and exploitation. Many of our cases have changed institutional practices, stopped government or corporate abuses, and set precedents that helped thousands.

Currently, our litigation is focused on five major areas: children’s rights, economic justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and mass incarceration.

Here are summaries, in a searchable format, of our current cases in addition to many over the previous four decades.

Showing 151 Results
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

October 15, 2008

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.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

September 30, 2008

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.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

September 30, 2008

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.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

May 13, 2008

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 Justice

Date Filed

March 16, 2008

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.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

March 10, 2008

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. 

Children's Rights

Date Filed

September 20, 2007

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.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

July 10, 2007

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.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

June 07, 2007

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.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

May 29, 2007

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.

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