Filed back in September, the suit states that plaintiffs are seeking “lost wages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief to ensure that Pitts Farms Partnership complies in the future with federal law that protects US workers as a hiring priority for jobs and their wages.” Additionally, the suit alleges that Pitt Farms doesn’t contract with any Black South Africans although the population of the country is only 8% white. The farming company hires white South African workers under the H-2A visa.
Richard Strong, one of the six men named as plaintiffs in the suit, believes they weren't compensated properly because of racial discrimination. "I never did imagine that it would come to the point where they would be hiring foreigners, instead of people like me," he said in an interview with The New York Times.
In 2020, the foreign workers were paid $11.83 per hour while the seasonal Black workers in Mississippi, with over two decades of experience, were being paid between $7.25-$9 per hour, according to the suit.
Ty Pinkins, an attorney from the Mississippi Center for Justice and Southern Migrant Legal Services representing the US farmers, said the workers informed the company about the pay disparities over the last several years but their grievances were not heard.
“We want to shine a light on some of the disparities that's taking place, not only in the agricultural industry with regard to the farm workers, but in other industries, as well," Pickens said.
"We want people to understand that sometimes they're not implemented fairly, and sometimes business owners find loopholes and take advantage of some of these policies,” he added.