Five employees of Perdue Farms Inc. have filed a federal, class-action lawsuit against 15 managers, accused of regularly hiring illegal aliens. The plaintiffs allege that the managers have conspired to hire large numbers of illegal aliens, thus suppressing the wages of legal workers.
The plants named in the suit are in Salisbury, Md., Accomac, Va.; Bridgewater, Va; Concord, N.C.; Cromwell, Ky.; Dillon, S.C.; Dothan, Ala.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Georgetown, Del.; Lewistown, N.C.; Milford, Del.; Monterey, Tenn.; Perry, Ga.; Rockingham, N.C.; Showell, Md.; and Washington, Ind.
The plaintiffs make the following accusations against Perdue managers:
- Falsely attesting on I-9 forms that illegal immigrants presented genuine work documents.
- Hiring employees that previously worked in other Perude plants under different aliases.
- Coaching illegal aliens to claim high numbers of dependents on tax forms to reduce tax withholding.
- Tipping off illegal employees to rumors of government raids in plants so they are not at the plant during the inspection and not arrested.
- Telling legal workers perceived to be underworking to work harder or they would be replaced by new hires "from the tomato fields," a euphemism for illegal workers.
The lawsuit states: “Illegal immigrants will work for extremely low wages, will typically not complain about workplace conditions and injuries, and because of their vulnerable situation, will accede to employer demands to work harder and longer hours than American citizens.”
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Howard Foster, said: “They are able to get away with it because the federal government lets them get away with it. They don't enforce immigration laws very well.”
Perdue Farms is one of the country’s largest poultry processing company, with more than $4.5 billion in annual sales.
The food processing industry is notorious for hiring illegal aliens. The following is a short list of some of the more high-profile companies recently caught with illegal aliens in their employ:
-Agriprocessors Inc. - On May 12, 2008, ICE agents executed criminal and administrative search warrants at Agriprocessors, Inc., in Postville, IA, which resulted in the arrest of 389 illegal aliens. 305 of those arrested were also convicted of criminal offenses.
CEO Sholom Rubashkin was arrested and charged with federal conspiracy of harboring illegal immigrants and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. However, the U.S. Attorney’s office later dropped all 72 charges against him.
-Pilgrim’s Pride - On April 16, 2007, ICE agents arrested 311 illegal aliens working at five Pilgrim’s Pride sites. Of the 311 arrested, 91 were charged with other criminal violations.
-Del Monte Produce - On June 12, 2007, ICE agents arrested 168 illegal alien employees at their Portland, OR facility. In addition to the illegal workers, 13 managers and other workers were arrested and charged with various crimes including selling Social Security cards.
-Swift and Company - On Dec. 12, 2006, ICE agents arrested 1,297 illegal aliens at six Swift meat processing factories in six states. 274 of those arrested were also charged with other criminal offenses.
-Smithfield Foods - After ICE agents raided the Tar Heel, NC plant and arrested 21 illegal alien workers, 500 workers with fake Social Security numbers were promptly fired from the factory. Another raid in August 2007, netted 28 more illegal aliens, all were from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.
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