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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 14, 2016

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Washington Potato Company and Pasco Processing Alleging Discrimination Against Immigrants

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against two Washington-based companies, Washington Potato Company and Pasco Processing LLC, alleging that they violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against immigrants during the employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship status.

According to the complaint, from at least November 2013 until at least October 2016, Washington Potato and Pasco Processing requested specific limited documentation for the Form I-9 and/or E-Verify from non-U.S. citizen employees, but allowed U.S. citizens the flexibility to present a variety of documents.  Under the INA, all workers, including non-U.S. citizens, must be allowed to choose freely from among the valid documentation that proves their work authorization.  The INA prohibits employers from discriminating by unlawfully limiting some workers’ choices based on their citizenship status.

“Federal law protects individuals with legal work authorization from facing discriminatory obstacles during employment eligibility verification,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “All people with legal employment status in the United States must receive an equal opportunity to prove they can work, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation. 

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/webinars.php, email osccrt@usdoj.gov; or visit OSC’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to: different documentary requirements based on their citizenship status, immigration status or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship status, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee, should contact OSC’s worker hotline for assistance.

Washington Potato Complaint

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Immigration
Press Release Number: 
16-1320
Updated November 14, 2016