Case name: Farm Labor Organizing Committee et al. v. Roy Cooper, in his official capacity as Governor of North Carolina

North Carolina farmworkers and a coalition of civil rights groups are challenging a state law that guts the ability of farmworkers to organize and make collective bargaining agreements with employers.

The federal lawsuit argues that the North Carolina Farm Act of 2017 impedes farmworkers’ First Amendment right to participate in unions, and asserts that the law is discriminatory, as more than 90 percent of the state’s agricultural workers are Latino. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the government cannot impose special burdens on expressive associations such as unions.

The case was brought on behalf of the only farmworkers’ union in the state — the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) — and two individual farmworkers. It was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the North Carolina Justice Center, and the Law Offices of Robert J. Willis. The groups are asking the court to block implementation of the law as the challenge proceeds.

UPDATE: On September 30, 2018, a federal court blocked the law from going into effect as the legal challenge proceeds. The court found that the law likely violates farmworkers’ Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.

Date filed

November 14, 2017


U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina