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Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules Against A Challenge To Michigan Public Health Order

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Michigan Farm Bureau
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Farmworkers pick strawberries in a Michigan farm

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a challenge to Michigan’s public health order requiring farm owners to test workers for COVID-19.

 Reportaje disponible en español aqui | Corte del Sexto Circuito de Apelaciones Vota En Contra Una Demanda De Una Orden De Salud Publica

In a ?unanimous?decision, the U.S. Sixth Circuit ?Court of Appeals? ruled in favor of?an ?emergency order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ?requiring coronavirus testing for all agricultural and food processing employees.??? 

The ruling comes a few weeks after Michigan farm owners and employees filed a lawsuit arguing the order discriminates against Latinos. 

Rex Schultz with Heritage Blueberries in Bangor, Michigan is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.In a statement, Schultz said that most of his employees do not want to be tested and are upset after testing began on August 24. 

 “They're pulling out of the state; they're just leaving because they don't want to be a part of this,” he said. 

Diana Marin?is?with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, an organization that filed a legal brief in support of the order. She?said?the decision?is a win for farm workers in?the state.??? 

“We are hearing from a lot of workers who are thankful about it and they have all said that: this is good, to me this means that the state of Michigan cares about us enough to test us and they are putting money into getting us tested,” she said.? 

Marin says the lawsuit has caused a lot of confusion among the migrant workers Michigan Immigrant Rights Center is working with.  

“I talked to a client who told me that ‘they are telling me only the Latino workers are going to be tested and not the white workers’” she said. “I had to explain to my client that that’s not how the public health order is going to be implemented.” 

According to the order, all employers of migrant or seasonal workers, and those working in greenhouses and meat, poultry and egg processing facilities with more than 20 employees on site at a time are required to test all workers for COVID-19. 

“This is an order that is for the?wellbeing?of agricultural workers and the industry itself and the broader community,” Marin explained. “We have been hearing from farmworkers that they support?that?and they want it to happen and they want to keep their community safe and stop the spread of the coronavirus.”?? 

 Allison Eicher is anattorney with the Michigan Farm Bureau, which supported the lawsuit. In a statement, she said the?decision is disappointing.? 

“We are obviously disappointed in the 6th Circuit opinion,” Eicher said. “We will wait to hear what the next steps are for the plaintiff farmworkers and employers. “

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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