Corteva, Others Sued by Migrant Worker Family for Employment Violations

Carlos Caudillo and his family have filed a complaint against Advance Services, Inc.; Corteva Agriscience, Inc.; and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. for reneging on promises of employment and failing to adequately pay them for their time while employed.

The plaintiffs allege that Advance Services, on behalf of the other two defendants, breached the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) by making false promises as to how long they would be employed, for how many hours per week they would work, and for how much they would be paid. 

According to the complaint, in late April and early May 2019, Advance Services recruited the Caudillo family to work for Corteva Agriscience and Pioneer Hi-Bred for a total period of eighteen weeks, the first six in Georgia, and each subsequent six in other states. During meetings with the family, the representative of Advance Services promised each adult seventy hours of work per week, with time and a half pay for each hour worked over forty. He also allegedly promised paid childcare for the minors. The family was to be given vans and a $50 gas card to travel from south Texas, where the family resides, to the worksite in Georgia. None of these guarantees were reaffirmed in writing, the complaint saidc.

Upon arrival, the plaintiffs say that they were given contracts in English only (their primary language is Spanish) that listed their hours as variable, though it did provide time and a half for overtime. The complaint further alleges that after the family signed their contracts, their employers crossed out the listed pay rate of $17 per hour, and wrote $14 per hour, which was then replaced with $12 per hour. The free childcare never materialized, the family says, causing the parents to miss days of work to care for their children and to eventually pay out of pocket for day care. 

After only three weeks of work, during which the family averaged approximately twenty hours per week per individual, the family’s employment was terminated without a given reason, the complaint continued. Georgia is an at-will employment state, and the complaint implies that the Caudillo family was replaced with cheaper H-2A migrant labor. The family was given $200 in gas money for the return trip, and they returned the vans upon arrival in Texas.

The complaint alleges that the defendants’ behavior violates the AWPA in that they failed to disclose in writing all the terms and conditions of the plaintiff’s employment, and failed to pay the plaintiffs adequately for all employment including the time they spent traveling from Texas to Georgia. The plaintiffs seek damages for each AWPA violation, each Fair Labor Standards Act violation, and for reasonable attorneys fees.

The plaintiffs are represented by Dawson Morton, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and the complaint was filed in the Middle District of Georgia, where the Caudillo family worked for the defendants. The plaintiffs seek a jury trial.