Photo: Texas Estopy Farms Sued by DOJ
The Department of Justice (DOJ) seeks to intervene in a lawsuit filed by two U.S. citizens against the sorghum and soy farm, Estopy Farms, for alleged discrimination against them, whereby they lost employment opportunity when they were not hired because of their citizenship status, in this case U.S. citizenship.
The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on national origin or citizenship status in the hiring or firing process.
According to the department’s complaint, a U.S. citizen with over twelve years experience operating cotton combines and tractors, applied for a position with Estopy Farms as a cotton picker operator around June of 2010. The U.S. citizen was not hired, and Estopy Farms hired a number of seasonal foreign workers instead.
The department found reasonable cause to believe that the company did not hire the U.S. citizen because it preferred to hire foreign workers under the H-2A visa program. The H-2A visa program allows foreign nationals into the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Employers that seek to participate in the program file an application with the U.S. Department of Labor certifying that they have actively tried to recruit U.S. workers for the jobs.