Photo: Farmland Settle Immigration Discrimination Suit
The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with Farmland Foods Inc., a major producer of pork products in the United States, resolving allegations that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and excessive documentary requirements on non-U.S. citizens and foreign-born U.S. citizens when establishing their authority to work in the United States. Farmland Foods, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc., is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. The settlement resolves the lawsuit filed against Farmland in June 2011.
The lawsuit, initiated by the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), was based on an investigation revealing that Farmland required all newly hired non-U.S. citizens and some foreign-born U.S. citizens at its Monmouth, Ill., plant to present specific and, in many cases, extra work-authorization documents beyond those required by federal law. In the case of non-U.S. citizens, Farmland required the presentation of additional work authorization documents, generally by requiring social security cards, even when employees had already produced other documents establishing work authority.
In the case of foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens, Farmland required evidence of citizenship, such as certificates of naturalization or U.S. passports, even when those individuals had other means of proving their work authority. Farmland’s demand for specific or excessive documents to establish work authority violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
In addition to ending its impermissible document requests and modifying its employment eligibility verification process, Farmland has agreed to pay $290,400 in civil penalties, the highest civil penalty paid through settlement since enactment of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision in 1986. Farmland also agreed to monitoring and reporting provisions, as well as training for their human resources personnel.