Combatting Wage Suppression in the Sheep Ranching Industry: Llacua et al. v. Western Range Association et al

Towards Justice attacks impediments to competitive labor markets that should allow workers, including the most marginalized and underpaid, to shop between employers for a better deal. We represent shepherds in a class action lawsuit alleging that ranchers across the Western United States colluded to depress shepherd wages, illegally deducted expenses from their meager paychecks, and misled state and federal governments in a pattern of racketeering activity. Our clients allege that ranches hired their shepherds through an association constituted by competing ranches. In doing so, they sharply limited competition for shepherds and effectively fixed wages at the minimum allowable by law.

Case Documents

Tenth Circuit Brief

Press Releases

9/1/2015 Shepherds Allege that an Antitrust Conspiracy Has Kept Them Below the Poverty Line

Press

9/2/2015 Lawsuit: Western sheep operators colluded against workers

9/2/2015 Peruvian shepherds claim wage fixing in U.S. sheep industry: lawsuit

9/1/2015 Workers Say Sheep Ranchers, Ranching Groups Fixing Wages

Spanish Language Press

11/16/2015 Cautiverio En Las Rocallosas, Parte 1

11/9/2015 Pastores de ovejas en la miseria tras venir como trabajodres huéspedes

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Calling on the Government to Protect Marginalized Shepherds: Hispanic Affairs Project v. Perez

Towards Justice fights for justice for marginalized workers. We represent current and former shepherds, who until recently made only $2 or $3 an hour, alleging that the Federal Government has failed in its duty to protect workers and prevent wage stagnation in the sheep ranching industry. Our clients allege that the United States Departments of Labor and Homeland Security – charged by Congress with preventing the influx of cheap foreign labor and the creation of a permanent, underpaid foreign workforce – have failed in these duties in violation of federal law.  All plaintiffs seek correction of the regulatory mess these agencies have created, and one current shepherd seeks back wages from his employer, the Western Range Association. Towards Justice represents the plaintiffs with co-counsel Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.

Case Documents

DC Circuit Decision

Press Releases

9/13/2016 Shepherds Proceed with Claims that the U.S. Government Illegally Created a Permanent Workforce of Foreign Shepherds and Arbitrarily Denies Foreign Shepherds Wages for All Hours They Work

11/6/2015 The Federal Government Has Failed in its Duty to Protect Workers and Prevent Wage Stagnation, Shepherds Allege

Press

3/13/2017 Ranchers, DOL Fight Shepherds’ Wage Floor Challenge

11/5/2015 Exploited sheepherders win pay raise in court—but their struggle isn’t over yet

10/15/2015 Shepherds Argue DOL Visa Rules Keep Wages Too Low

10/13/2015 Sheepherders Are Set to Get a Raise

10/1/2015 Montrose group files lawsuit over sheepherder wages

9/17/2015 DOL Slams Injunction Bid In H-2A Sheepherder Suit

8/25/2015 Immigrant labor harming U.S. shepherds, lawsuit says

8/20/2015 Shepherds Sue Uncle Sam for Living Wage

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Combating Systemic Minimum Wage Violations for Nevada Shepherds: Cántaro et. al v. Western Range Association et. al

Towards Justice represents a proposed class of shepherds alleging systematic violation of the Nevada minimum wage by paying shepherds as little as two dollars an hour. Towards Justice represents the plaintiffs with co-counsel Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

Case Documents

Amended Complaint

Press

5/5/2016 Shepherds Say They’re Paid Just $2 an Hour

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In The Courtroom

Our litigators help workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. We use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. We have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. We are leaders in challenging anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement.

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