Powered by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Posted: 1:54 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012

Judge: Georgia company must pay foreign workers $11.8 million

  • comment(30)



By Jeremy Redmon

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge this week ordered a Georgia forestry contractor to pay $11.8 million to Guatemalan and Mexican guest workers who said they were cheated out of wages while they planted trees for the company.

That judgment against Franklin-based Eller & Sons Trees Inc. is the largest court award of its kind for such guest workers, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represented the plaintiffs in the case.

Eller & Sons filed court papers, denying the guest workers’ allegations. An attorney who represented the company said the cost of the lawsuit forced it out of business a few years ago and that the principal owner, Jerry Eller, filed for bankruptcy.

“Entire villages in Guatemala were dependent upon Jerry Eller and Eller & Sons for, frankly, their livelihood,” said Larry Stine, an attorney who represented Eller & Sons. “The net result of this lawsuit is… they put the employer out of work.”

The class action lawsuit covered about 4,000 guest workers who worked for the company between 1999 and 2008, according to the SPLC. The plaintiffs alleged the company did not pay them a prevailing wage for their labor or the federal minimum wage as required by U.S. labor laws.

“The court sent a strong and clear message in this case that businesses employing guest workers will be held accountable if they abuse or mistreat guest workers,” said Jim Knoepp, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC.

  • comment(30)

More News

 
 

Today on MyAJC.com

North Carolina woman’s “selfi” puts face on fraud that bilked Atlantan

An Atlanta man was bilked out of $175,000 when he fell victim to an organized ring that uses identity theft to raid investment and bank accounts, according to Atlanta police.

6:01 p.m.  

millennial

Millennials: Big in numbers — and joblessness

Millions of them still live with their parents. Those who live on their own aren’t buying homes.

Comments  (2)  

Psychiatrist’s transcripts among Carson McCullers archives

Psychiatrist’s transcripts among Carson McCullers archives

Among a trove of new Carson McCullers-related archives that includes letters, telegrams, snapshots, tape recordings, birthday cards, menus and a bill for the pink roses that blanketed the author’s coffin, is an astonishing acquisition: a dozen or so transcripts of McCullers’ therapy sessions with her former psychiatrist, Mary Mercer.

Comments  (1)  

Subscribe to the AJC on your device

24-hour Digital Pass: Flashback

See Flashback Fotos on myajc.com for only 99 cents. Visit the MyAJC archives for a historic look at Atlanta from Midtown in the 70s to Auburn Avenue and even life here before traffic jams on the interstates.

In your community

Annual Woofstock event in Suwanee

Volunteering in Atlanta

Learn how to volunteer in Atlanta and north Georgia, browse volunteer events and search local groups who need volunteers in the arts, community, food programs, housing, animal rescue and more.

Before you go

AJC.com Updates

Weather and radar

Atlanta weather is always changing. Check current conditions and radar before you get in the car, plus get an update on tomorrow's forecast.