Skip to main content
Press Release

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Lawsuit Against Pasco, Washington Fruit and Vegetable Processor

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement agreement with Washington Potato Company and Pasco Processing, LLC, which operate a fruit and vegetable processing facility located in Pasco, Washington.  The agreement resolves a discrimination lawsuit the Justice Department filed against the companies on Nov. 14, 2016.

The department’s lawsuit alleged that from at least Nov. 1, 2013, until at least Oct. 16, 2016, the companies routinely requested that lawful permanent residents hired at Pasco Processing produce a specific document – a Permanent Resident Card – to prove their work authorization, while not requesting a specific document from U.S. citizens.  The department’s complaint alleged that Washington Potato directed and controlled Pasco Processing’s hiring practices, including the discriminatory documentary practices at issue.  The antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits such unfair documentary requests when based on citizenship status or national origin. 

Under the agreement, Washington Potato Company and Pasco Processing are required to pay civil penalties of $225,750, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, train their human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. 

“The Justice Department is committed to removing illegal barriers to employment based on citizenship, immigration status, or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working with Pasco Processing and Washington Potato Company to fulfill the terms of this agreement.”

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, immigration 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 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; 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.

Updated May 17, 2017

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 17-538