Pilgrim’s $29M Wage-Fixing Settlement Gets First Court OK

The poultry plant employees leading antitrust litigation over an alleged scheme to drive down pay for the industry’s largely immigrant workforce won preliminary approval Tuesday, July 20, from a federal judge in Baltimore for a US$29 million settlement with JBS SA subsidiary Pilgrim’s Pride.

Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher tentatively signed off on the deal, which would allow Pilgrim’s to exit the proposed class action moving forward in the US District Court for the District of Maryland.

Originally filed in August 2019, the lawsuit alleges that Pilgrim’s, Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, Koch Foods and others engaged in a decade-long conspiracy to fix the wages for hundreds of thousands of workers.

The lawsuit asserts the defendants formed, implemented, monitored and enforced the conspiracy by holding “off the books” in-person meetings where they agreed to fix wages. It further alleges they exchanged detailed wage and benefit information via Agri Stats, and that plant managers engaged in bilateral and regional exchanges of wage information.

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