The Legal Aid Justice Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center have won a judgment for more than $11 million against Eller & Sons Trees, Inc., and company owner Jerry Eller on behalf of more than 4,000 guestworkers. This decision resolves the latest case in a long-running campaign by foreign guestworkers who say they were cheated out of the wages they earned planting trees for the forestry industry. This judgment follows a 2010 settlement of similar claims by another group of guestworkers against Arkansas-based Superior Forestry Services, Inc., for $2.75 million. In both cases, foreign guestworkers on H-2B visas toiled throughout the southeastern United States planting pine seedlings
Legal Aid Justice Center attorneys Erin Trodden, Tim Freilich, and Alex Gulotta worked on the case, along with former Legal Aid Justice Center attorneys Jim Knoepp, Mary Bauer, and Andrew Turner, as well as private attorney Brian Spears of Atlanta, Georgia.
The Southern Poverty Law Center previously published a report, Close to Slavery, about “systematically exploited and abused” guestworkers under the H-2 program..