ORANGEBURG, SC — Michael Diaz, Jean-Nichole Diaz, and Diaz Family Farms LLC recently filed a lawsuit with The US District Court for the District of South Carolina that alleges they were misclassified as independent contractors when working with Amick Farms LLC.
The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that Amick Farms treated them as controlled employees instead of independent contractors under federal and South Carolina employee law.
Later in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the broiler industry is almost entirely vertically integrated and poultry companies control nearly every step of production. This includes growing the chicken feed, hatching, veterinary care, transportation, slaughtering and selling the product.
However, the lawsuit contends that their operation is not functioning as an independent contractor under these conditions.
“By using contract growers instead of owning their own farms, (Amick Farms) has offloaded enormous capital costs and financial risks onto its growers,” the lawsuit stated. “Instead of being responsible for the cost of constructing chicken houses, upgrading equipment, managing waste, and potentially losing chickens to natural disasters or other unexpected circumstances, (Amick Farms) forces growers to bear these costs by deceptively classifying growers as independent contractors.”
Diaz Farms also alleged that the Amick Growers Contract requires them to enter into an exclusive work agreement and post Amick Farms signage on at the entrance of their farm.
OSI Group, parent company of Amick Farms, did not respond to a request for comment at press time.