Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Crop Production Services Alleging Discrimination Against U.S. Workers
The Justice Department announced today that it filed a lawsuit against Crop Production Services Inc. (Crop Production), headquartered in Loveland, Colorado, for allegedly discriminating against U.S. workers in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The complaint alleges that in 2016, Crop Production discriminated against at least three United States citizens by refusing to employ them as seasonal technicians in El Campo, Texas, because Crop Production preferred to hire temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program. According to the department’s complaint, Crop Production imposed more burdensome requirements on U.S. citizens than it did on H-2A visa workers to discourage U.S. citizens from working at the facility. For instance, the complaint alleges that whereas U.S. citizens had to complete a background check and a drug test before being permitted to start work, H-2A workers were allowed to begin working without completing them and, in some cases, never completed them. The complaint also alleges that Crop Production refused to consider a limited-English proficient U.S. citizen for employment but hired H-2A workers who could not speak English. Ultimately, all of Crop Production’s 15 available seasonal technician jobs in 2016 went to H-2A workers instead of U.S. workers.
Under the INA, it is unlawful for employers to intentionally discriminate against U.S. workers because of their citizenship status or to otherwise favor the employment of temporary foreign workers over available, qualified U.S. workers. In addition, the H-2A visa program requires employers to recruit and hire available, qualified U.S. workers before hiring temporary foreign workers.
“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, the Department of Justice will not tolerate employers who discriminate against U.S. workers because of a desire to hire temporary foreign visa holders,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “The Justice Department will enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to protect U.S. workers as they are the very backbone of our communities and our economy. Where there is a job available, U.S. workers should have a chance at it before we bring in workers from abroad.”
The United States’ complaint seeks back pay on behalf of the workers, civil penalties, and other remedial relief to correct and prevent discrimination. The workers have also filed their own private suit, and are represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. Both suits were filed in the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, a specialized administrative court that Congress created to resolve such claims.
The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.
This case is part of the Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, an initiative aimed at targeting, investigating, and bringing enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of foreign visa workers.
For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to: different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.