NCLEJ Files Friend of the Court Brief in Support of Farmworkers

On April 25, 2018 NCLEJ filed an amicus curiae (“Friend of the Court”) brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit supporting farmworkers’ rights to fair pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The brief supports the U.S. Department of Labor’s recent victory at trial against a major Georgia grower, Bland Farms, for failing to pay farmworkers overtime as mandated by the FLSA. The FLSA requires growers to pay overtime to packing shed employees, such as the Bland Farms workers, who pack produce grown by contractors for exclusive purchase and packing by the contracting grower (Bland Farms in this case). The Judge awarded more than $1.4 million in back wages to the workers. The Judge also imposed liquidated damages against Bland Farms for failing to pay overtime even after the U.S. Department of Labor filed its complaint. Bland Farms appealed the decision.

Farmworkers are among the most marginalized and lowest paid workers in the U.S., in part because of their historical exclusion from many employment law protections. The workers at Bland Farms have the right to overtime pay for the work they performed, because their work is within the narrow category of farm work that is eligible for overtime pay under FLSA. This case is important because if Bland Farms prevails, this narrow category of farm work that is eligible for overtime pay would be seriously limited.

NCLEJ’s brief highlights the importance of overtime protections for farmworkers given their vulnerable position in society. NCLEJ was joined on the brief by Adelante Alabama Worker Center, Florida Legal Services, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Georgia Legal Services Program, Justice in Motion, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, The Legal Aid Justice Center’s Virginia Justice Project for Farm and Immigrant Workers, the National Employment Law Project, Project South, Southerners on New Ground, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The case is Acosta v. Bland Farms Production and Packing, LLC, Appeal No. 17-15322, on appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. To view the order awarding damages, click here. To read more about the case, click here. To read the amicus, click here.

For more information, contact NCLEJ Senior Attorney Leah Lotto,