FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH SWIFT & COMPANY REGARDING WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice today announced an agreement with Swift & Company, a division of ConAgra, Inc., to settle allegations of workplace discrimination. The settlement, approved by Judge Robert L. Barton, Jr. of the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, resolves a complaint filed by the Department of Justice's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC).
Since 1990, Swift & Company's Worthington, Minnesota plant allegedly engaged in a pattern or practice of citizenship status discrimination and unfair documentary practices during the hiring process against U.S. citizens who were believed to look or sound "foreign" and lawful work-authorized immigrants. Such individuals were subject to greater scrutiny during the employment verification process than individuals who appeared to be U.S. citizens.
"Anyone who is entitled to work should be treated equally and without discrimination in the employment market," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Ralph F. Boyd, Jr. "This includes lawful and legally-entitled members of our immigrant community," added Boyd.
Swift & Company has agreed to pay $174,088 in civil penalties, $13,412 in back pay, receive employment discrimination training for its human resource personnel, as well as offering interviews and positions to individual victims.
The settlement, the largest ever by OSC, was reached after a two-year investigation and prosecution of the case, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1324b. This section prohibits unfair employment practices based upon national origin, citizenship status, unfair documentary practices, and retaliation in the hiring and firing of employees. The investigation began when a U.S. citizen complained to OSC that Swift refused to hire her because it believed that she was an undocumented worker.
"This Administration is committed to ensuring that legal immigrants who play by the rules face a level playing field in the job market," said Special Counsel Juan Carlos Benitez.
For more information about protections against job discrimination under the immigration laws, please visit the OSC website at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/osc/index.html. Information is also available by calling 800-255-7688 or 202-616-5594 or write to:
Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20530