Immigration Law

Veggie Packer Settles I-9 Discrimination Claim, Pays $100K Penalty

DOJ, Nov. 16, 2017 - "The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with Washington Potato Company, which operates the Freeze Pack vegetable processing plant located in Pasco, Washington.  The agreement resolves the department’s investigation into whether Washington Potato 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 Washington Potato routinely requested that work-authorized non-U.S. citizens present specific documents to confirm their citizenship status, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents, while verifying their authorization to work at the Freeze Pack plant, but did not subject U.S. citizens to such requests.  The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. Under the settlement, Washington Potato will pay a civil penalty of $100,000 to the United States, train its staff, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.  An earlier settlement between the department and Washington Potato Company in May 2017 resolved litigation concerning similar discriminatory conduct by Washington Potato  in its management of another facility located in Pasco, Washington."