Black Mississippi farm workers file suit alleging that growers are passing them over for white South Africans and paying them more

Louisiana Farmers Stock Photo/Getty Images
Black Mississippi farm workers brought a lawsuit alleging discrimination in pay and hiring.

According to the suit, the farmer employed H-2A-qualified workers from South Africa.

According to the workers, they were paid $7.25-$9 per hour, while foreign workers were paid $11.83.

Black Mississippi farmers filed a lawsuit against Pitts Farms Partnership claiming that the company was paying more to white South Africans than native-born residents and is stealing their land.

Richard Strong, one the plaintiffs in the suit, said that he never imagined it would reach the point where foreigners would be hired instead of people like him.

In the suit, which was filed in September, the men seek lost wages, punitive damages and injunctive relief to make sure that Pitts Farms Partnership adheres in the future to federal law that protects US workers and makes them a priority in hiring for jobs. Pitts Farms Partnership did not immediately respond to Insider's Friday request for comment.

It also states that South Africa is predominantly Black, with less than 8 percent of its population being white. However, none of Pitts' foreign employees are Black. According to US Census data, 74% of the Sunflower County where Pitts Farm Partnership farms several hundred acres is Black.

Only 1.3% of US farmers are black, and many struggle to secure loans to purchase land.

According to the Mississippi seasonal workers, Black workers with more than two decades of experience were receiving $7.25-$9 an hr. In 2020, foreign workers received $11.83 an hr.

Ty Pinkins, a lawyer with the Mississippi Center for Justice and Southern Migrant Legal Services represents the farm workers in this suit. Insider heard from him that workers had contacted growers in the past few years to inform them of the disparities in their pay, but were not heard.

H-2A visa is a temporary visa for agricultural workers and allows foreign-born farmers, mostly from South Africa, to come to the US.

Continue the story

Growers must prove that they failed to find Americans to do the work in order to qualify. Domestic workers must receive the same wages as those who work in the import workforce.

However, the Black farmers who are suing claim that this is not what happened.

Pickens stated to Insider that they wanted to highlight some of the inequalities in the agricultural sector, including the effects on farm workers.

"We want people understand that policies are not always implemented in a fair manner and sometimes business owners find loopholes to take advantage of certain policies.

Insider has the original article.