Meat Plant Fined for Work Document Violations

A meat processing plant in Illinois has some boning up to do on immigration law.

The Justice Department on Monday announced it has signed a settlement agreement with West Liberty Foods L.L.C., an Iowa-based meat processing business that operates a plant in Bolingbrook, Illinois, to resolve the Department’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Department’s investigation revealed that West Liberty Foods routinely asked non-U.S. citizens hired at its Bolingbrook location to present specific documents, such as permanent resident cards or Employment Authorization Documents, to establish their work authority but did not make similar requests of U.S. citizens. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to more or different documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the settlement, West Liberty Foods will pay a civil penalty of $52,100 to the United States, ensure that its human resources staff participate in department-provided training, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.

“When verifying an employee’s work authorization, employers must ensure that they do not impose unlawful barriers based on citizenship status,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “We commend West Liberty Foods for its cooperation with the Department’s investigation, and look forward to working with the company to implement this agreement.”

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) 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; and 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 IER@usdoj.gov; 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 for a fee, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

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