The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Crop Production Services Inc. (Crop Production), an agricultural company headquartered in Loveland, Colorado. The settlement resolves a lawsuit the DOJ filed against the company on September 28, 2017, alleging that the company discriminated against U.S. citizens because of a preference for foreign workers, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The Department’s lawsuit alleged that in 2016, Crop Production discriminated against at least three U.S. citizens by refusing to employ them as seasonal technicians at its El Campo, Texas, location because the company preferred to employ temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program. According to the DOJ 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 example, the complaint alleged that although U.S. citizens had to complete a background check and a drug test before starting work, H-2A visa workers were allowed to begin working without completing them and, in some cases, never completed them. The complaint also alleged that Crop Production refused to consider a limited-English-proficient U.S. citizen for employment, yet hired H-2A visa workers with limited-English proficiency. Ultimately, all of Crop Production’s 15 available seasonal technician jobs in 2016 went to H-2A visa workers instead of U.S. workers.
The settlement agreement requires Crop Production to pay civil penalties of $10,500 to the United States, undergo DOJ-provided training on the antidiscrimination provision of the INA, and comply with departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. In a separate agreement with workers represented by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Crop Production agreed to pay $18,738.75 in lost wages to affected U.S. workers.
The settlement 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 workers.