On July 13, 2015 Thomas Burrell and The Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association filed, by and through their attorney, a class action lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and one of its contractors (Epiq Systems, a/k/a the Claims Administrator in Portland, Oregon) for violating BFAA’s members’ civil rights.
USDA allowed the Claims Administrator to disqualify thousands (50,593) of Black farmers and/or their heirs from participating in the Hispanic and Female Farmers and Ranchers Voluntary Claim Process. See, Case1:00-cv-02502, Document 249 at Page 2. The majority of these claims were denied by the Claims Administrator for no other reason, but that they were filed for the benefit of African American males as follows:
Thank you for your interest in the Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Resolution Process. To participate in this Process, you must be either Hispanic/Latino or female. On your Claim Form, you indicated that you are an African American male. As a result, you are not eligible to participate in this Claims Resolution Process, and your claim has been DENIED.
BFAA argued that this denial violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states as follows:
Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., was enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. As President John F. Kennedy said in 1963:
“Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.”