African-American Workers Pursue Case Alleging Rampant Racism at Georgia Farm

Sometimes the alleged acts of discrimination that go on within a workplace may be extensive and extreme. Even when that level of alleged racism is going on at work, it is still important to follow all of the necessary steps to pursue your case carefully and thoroughly to avoid procedural issues that might trip up your action. Three workers at a Georgia farm each cleared important hurdles in their Title VII race discrimination lawsuits against their employer when a federal judge recently denied the employer’s request (in each case) to grant it summary judgment on the employees’ Title VII claims.

The allegations came from three African-American employees who worked at a South Georgia egg farm. All three employees described the farm in their lawsuits as a “hotbed of racism.” Indeed, the allegations seem to depict a world that some might think (or at least hoped) no longer existed. According to worker allegations, the employer made black employees clean not only their own eggs but also white employees’ eggs for them. The job of throwing all of the bad eggs into a pond was also allegedly left exclusively to black workers. Even more disturbingly, the employer allegedly allowed only white employees to use the farm office for eating lunch, to use the office’s refrigerator, and to have free water. White employees allegedly sat on chairs during lunch, while black employees were relegated to sitting on milk crates.

The female employee’s allegations were equally serious. In addition to the employer’s alleged refusal to allow black workers to use the bathroom inside the chicken house, the employee allegedly discovered some of the farm’s payroll books, showing that the farm paid white employees more than black ones. She also claimed that the farmer’s daughter, who was also in a position of authority at the farm, frequently used racist slurs. Whenever the worker complained about the epithets, the daughter allegedly took an adverse employment action against her.

In each case, the employer moved for summary judgment. In each case, the employer’s motion failed. There are several components that go into putting together a winning Title VII claim. For example, Title VII doesn’t apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees. The employer in this case argued that it couldn’t be liable under Title VII because it had too few employees. The trial court concluded that the true number of employees at the farm was actually a matter of factual dispute, so that argument could not warrant summary judgment.

Title VII also requires proof that the employer engaged in discrimination and disparate treatment of employees. One way to do this is through direct evidence. The female employee had direct evidence in the form of a statement alleging that, after she complained about conditions, the farmer’s wife spoke to her with racially-charged language, and the farmer ordered her off the property. The male employees’ case involved similar facts, including being called racist slurs. These facts were severe enough and numerous enough to create a genuine possibility that a reasonable juror could potentially find the employer acted with discriminatory intent, which meant that the employer wasn’t entitled to summary judgment.

To pursue and succeed in a Title VII action, it is important to ensure you have covered all of the bases required by the law. The hardworking Georgia race discrimination attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert have been helping employees and employers deal with Title VII issues for many years and are here to help with your case.

To speak with one of our lawyers about your case, call 404-873-8048.

More blog posts:

What Happens When a Patient Makes a Race-Specific Caregiver Request? Sixth Circuit Ruling Offers Insight for Tennessee Employers, Atlanta Employment Attorneys Blog, May 6, 2016

Appeals Court Applies Agricultural Exception to Case Involving Tennessee Worm Farmers, Atlanta Employment Attorneys Blog, Feb. 25, 2016

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