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In a 2010 landmark settlement, an Arkansas forestry company has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle the legal claims of foreign guest workers who say they were cheated out of pay for their work. Superior Forestry Services Inc.’s agreement to pay more than 2,200 guest workers made this settlement one of the largest ever reached under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. The company also agreed to abide by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act to ensure workers are not cheated out of future wages.

The company recruited guest workers from Mexico and Central America to plant pine seedlings throughout the southeastern United States. The guest workers entered the country legally under the H-2B guest worker visa program. The Legal Aid Justice Center worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center; Farm Worker Justice; and attorneys from two Chicago-based private law firms, Willenson Law LLC and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, to bring the suit on behalf of the guest workers.

“This settlement is an important milestone for American guest workers,” said Tim Freilich, then legal director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program. “It shows that employers cannot exploit these workers with impunity. The workers have rights, and they have a voice. This huge win shows that workers can—and will—defend their rights.” 

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