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Press Release 10-05-2011

Hamilton Growers Sued By EEOC For Discrimination Against American Workers

Company Favored Mexican Workers Over American Workers, Federal Agency Charges

ATLANTA – Hamilton Growers, Inc., doing business as Southern  Valley Fruit and Vegetable, Inc., subjected American workers to discrimination  based on their national origin at its Norman Park, Ga., location, the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed recently.

According  to the EEOC's lawsuit, the company engaged in a pattern or practice of firing virtually  all American workers while retaining workers from Mexico during the 2009 and 2010  growing seasons. The agency also alleges  that the employer fired at least 16 African American workers in 2009 based on  race and/or national origin when their termination was coupled with race-based  comments by a management official. The  lawsuit also alleges the employer provided lesser job opportunities to American  workers, which resulted in their earning less pay than their Mexican counterparts,  and subjected American workers to different terms and conditions of employment,  including less desirable job assignments.

Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating  against employees on the basis of national origin and race. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No., 7:11-CV-00134-HL)  in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia after first  attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process. The EEOC is seeking back pay  and compensatory and punitive damages for 19 persons who filed charges with the  agency and for other American workers harmed by the practices. The agency is also seeking injunctive relief  designed to stop the discrimination and prevent it from recurring in the  future.

"The EEOC has reason  to believe that the practices alleged in the lawsuit are relatively common in  the industry," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC's  Atlanta District Office."The EEOC is committed to protectingAmerican  workers from arbitrary firings and disparate treatment due to national origin."

The EEOC enforces  federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is  available on its web site at