Lawsuit by Raided Meat Workers Nets $1.175 Million

Oct. 14, 2022
Plaintiffs charged abuse and racial profiling during an immigration raid in 2018.

Former employees of a poultry slaughterhouse in Tennessee have won a $1.175 million settlement in a case stemming from their treatment during an immigration raid in 2018.

The raid of Southeastern Provision in Bean Station, Tenn., by immigration and IRS agents resulted in the detention of nearly 100 workers, all of them Hispanic. They were handcuffed and taken to a National Guard armory, unable to get word to their families.

Six of them sued the federal government, charging that immigration agents had been abusive during the arrest and that they indiscriminately swept up all the workers onsite who looked Hispanic.

The lawsuit further charged that the agents were only authorized by their warrant to look for tax violations. The owner of Southeastern Provision, James Brantley, eventually pleaded guilty to tax evasion and hiring undocumented immigrants, and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He was said to have evaded $1.3 million in payroll taxes by paying workers in cash, while paying them as little as $6 an hour.

The six plaintiffs will share in $475,000 of the settlement. Another $550,000 will go to about 100 workers as part of the class-action lawsuit, while $150,000 will go to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center, who handled the case. The settlement must still be approved by a federal judge.

About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.

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