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Landmark Case

Date Filed

October 19, 1979

Cotton mill workers contracted brown lung, or byssinosis, by inhaling tiny dust particles on a daily basis as they went about their work. The Center sued, achieving a breakthrough financial settlement and regulations to protect the health and safety of cotton mill workers.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

December 31, 1996

An Alabama tax assessor who used racial slurs denied tax exemptions to non-English speaking immigrant homeowners, and forced them to pay double the normal taxes. The Center filed suit, ending this discriminatory policy and securing reimbursements.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

May 14, 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.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

December 12, 1995

In 1995, a prison inmate confined to Alabama's segregation unit filed a pro se complaint to protect his First Amendment rights to receive newspapers and magazines. The ruling lifted a statewide ban against segregated inmates receiving outside reading materials.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

October 09, 2012

After Alabama’s anti-immigrant law took effect, the U.S. Department of Justice obtained public school attendance records and found a decline in Latino student attendance. The Southern Poverty Law Center requested the same data to determine the law’s impact on Latino students’ access to a public education. The SPLC filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Education after being denied the public records.

Date Filed

May 11, 1988

In 1988, only 11 of Alabama's 223 trial judges were black. The Center sued to end a system denying racial minorities the chance to elect judicial candidates of their choice. The federal district court disagreed, upholding a voting system found unfair in other states.

Landmark Case

Date Filed

June 11, 1969

When Montgomery, Alabama, closed its public parks and pools rather than integrate them, the local YMCA took over the city's recreational needs. As the YMCA continued to exclude blacks, Center co-founder Morris Dees sued and won a landmark court order that forced the YMCA to integrate its programs.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

February 09, 2006

After the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal complaint alleging dangerous work conditions at Gold Kist’s poultry processing facility in Russellville, Ala., the company reached a settlement agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to pay more than $80,000 in fines. The agreement also outlined steps the company would take to ensure employee safety.

Children's Rights
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 15, 1988

Concerned about inappropriate services and mental health treatment provided to children placed in Alabama foster care, the Center joined with mental health lawyers and sued in 1988, forcing drastic changes in the ways these cases are handled.

Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

February 26, 1974

Conditions in Alabama's prisons were an inhumane nightmare - violent, overcrowded and unsanitary. In a 1976 landmark ruling, a federal judge declared the prisons "wholly unfit for human habitation" and ordered detailed reforms.

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