DALLAS, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Eighteen former employees who worked at Swift & Co. have filed a $23 million lawsuit alleging that the meat packing company conspired to manipulate and depress the labor market and wages by hiring illegal immigrants. Earlier this week federal immigration officers raided six Swift production facilities in six states, arresting nearly 1,300 people in what is believed to be the nation's largest-ever workplace raid on illegal workers. "These plaintiffs are legal residents and victims in a longstanding scheme by Swift to depress and artificially lower the wages of all its workers by knowingly hiring illegal workers," says Angel Reyes, of Dallas' Heygood, Orr, Reyes & Bartolomei, attorney for the plaintiffs. "By lessening its labor costs and increasing its profits, Swift has severely damaged the potential earnings and livelihood of these hard-working men and women. This litigation seeks to redress those wrongs." Each of the plaintiffs were employed at the Swift facility in Cactus, Texas, located north of Amarillo. A total of 295 people were arrested on immigration violations or other criminal charges in a raid of the Cactus facility on Tuesday, Dec. 12. According to the lawsuit, Swift executives "actively sought to locate these illegal immigrants and hire them -- knowing full well that it was in violation of the immigration laws of the United States to do so." The lawsuit also accuses the company of transporting, smuggling, harboring and concealing illegal immigrants. "When the Swift plant opened in Cactus, wages were approximately $20 an hour," says lead litigation counsel Michael Heygood. "Now, the average wage is approximately $12 to $13 an hour. Illegal immigration has fueled this depression in wages." The lawsuit, filed late Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas alleges that defendants including Swift and its owners, the Dallas-based investment firm of HM Capital Partners LLC, formerly known as Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, engaged in an "enterprise that grossly affected commerce through a pattern of racketeering activity" in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. For more information or to speak with a plaintiff, contact Michael Heygood or Angel Reyes at 214-526-7900 or Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
SOURCE Heygood, Orr, Reyes & Bartolomei