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Norman Park produce grower to pay $500k

ATLANTA — Federal officials say one of Georgia’s largest vegetable farm operators has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle claims that the company discriminated against American workers, particularly black workers, because of their race and national origin, while giving better treatment to workers from Mexico.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement Thursday involving Hamilton Growers Inc., which has done business as Southern Valley Fruit and Vegetable Inc. of Norman Park. Federal officials say the agreement resolves a lawsuit filed by the EEOC in September 2011.

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that the firm let most of its U.S. workers go, but kept nearly all of its workers from Mexico. The lawsuit also maintained that black workers got fewer hours and were forced into less-lucrative work.

According to the allegation filed in U.S. District Court, a group of American-born workers contend that between 2009 and 2010, the majority of all American workers hired by the company had been terminated or laid off and that, at one point, a human resources representative of the company told 80 employees in May 2010 that “All you Americans are fired.”

Court documents state that the defendant hired 347 American workers between 2009 and the end of 2010 and that 278 of those workers had been fired. During the same time, the company hired 888 workers from Mexico, few of which, the plaintiffs contend, were terminated.

The plaintiffs also contend that the American workers were given rows of produce to pick that had already been picked by Mexican workers, leaving the American workers with less per-piece money than their Mexican counterparts.

Furthermore, the lawsuit contends that black employees were fired en masse simply because they were black.

In its response, Hamilton Growers offered a blanket denial of the claims of the plaintiffs, saying that “all employment actions taken by defendant with respect to any aggrieved individual were taken for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Comments

waltspecht 1 year, 4 months ago

One more time a possibly sound management decision is over ridden by our system. I have spoken with, and dealt with Farmers and other employers. It is more a question of work ethic, than it is a question of prejudice according to the ones I have spoken with.

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jglass 1 year, 4 months ago

Walt, you hit the nail on the head!!

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tccvc 1 year, 4 months ago

If the case was without merit then Hamilton should not have settled, I believe they did what was alleged in the suit, and to stop a deeper investigation into their business practices they settled

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bigbob 1 year, 4 months ago

The reason they could pay the fine was because they kept the mexicans. If they had of kept the useless people from around here they would have been broke because everyone would have been spending all their time trying to figure a way to get on the welfare system.

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URWrongAgain 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm guessing that they go ahead and get this out the way in order to avoid anyone digging deeper. Can you say lower pay for Mexicans and the possibility of illegals? Now that's a sound management decision.

One thing is obvious from those numbers, White people won't even touch those jobs. Or maybe they're being discriminated against more than the African Americans?

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Amazed2 1 year, 4 months ago

This is all normal stuff in construction trades. Basically the Mexican labor works harder in general does not bitch about work and will work as many hours as needed Aint so for a lot of black and white labor.

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jglass 1 year, 4 months ago

You are right Amazed. I believe Mexicans should be legal, however there are very hard workers!!!!

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chinaberry25 1 year, 4 months ago

If a black person lost his job then it is prejudice, but let Gene Black lose his position to a black in this case, what is ever said and done. Over in that area, they use a great number of Mexicans. Most likely they are legal. It is very easy to check now with the government, but you could be right where they would rather pay off than get involved with the government. Maybe us whites ought to start suing DCSS because we all know a white para has not been hired in years and on their application they ask what your race is. I thought that was illegal.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

Every Mexican I know works hard from "Can See" to "Can't See" every day and hates a day when they can't go to work. There's your difference maker!

Everybody knows what I say is true and all you have to do is open your eyes and look around whenever you're rolling around town in your Luxury Imports that you can't afford to maintain properly or put the right octane gas in.

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Amazed2 1 year, 4 months ago

Sister Ruby that is exactly why they have basically taken over a lot of construction trades like labor, brick, concrete, sheetrock. They appreciate the job and wirk very hard. They are not liked by certain othet minorities because the mexican and other hispanic people make other groups look lazy. Check the poultry industry they apply and are hired there too because a lot of whites and blacks dont want that work either. Go to Las Vegas and you will see mostly hispanic maids in the huge luxury hotels. They are there cause they apply and work gard.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

Asians work hard too and like Hispanics, stick together as an entire family unit (with males!) and that's also why they are successful and also why they are hated by other minorities that won't work.

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tiredofit 1 year, 4 months ago

But the EEOC will not figure it out, you cannot hire sorry labor to complete a job. Most Mexican,Asian,Guatamalin workers produce more, not necessarily work for less, but efficiently. Then send money home to look after their family. If America would do that just imagine what we could turn into.

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Amazed2 1 year, 4 months ago

The more money pumped into the Obama run Federal Government to grow that monster the more and more this kind if stuff is going to happen. First of all I am Not Pro Alien workers but the American People need to get off thier Butt and get off Government Programs like Food Stamps and Welfare and get to work. You cannot make people have a strong desire to take care of their family especially when many not all though are perfectly willing to sit back and Suck from Society. Many draw from programs then do side jobs for cash and pay No taxes.

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Amazed2 1 year, 4 months ago

Just think next time you go to store to buy some Cabbage or produce how much of the cost of that item is cost of the settlement passed back to the buyer to cover settlement cost for government interferance in private business. Also the cost of having to hire lazy workers mandated by the Feds.

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