The Justice Department had beef with a Nebraska meatpacking plant's hiring practices, and it cost the company $200,000.
The DOJ recently announced in a press release that it had reached a settlement with Nebraska Beef Ltd., a meatpacking company based in Omaha, Neb. The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices initiated an investigation into meatpacking plant following suspicions that the company had violated the Immigration and Nationality Act. The inspection into Nebraska Beef's hiring practices was concerned with whether the company was requiring non-citizens to produce specific documents. Asking any individual to produce specific documents due to his or her citizenship status during the employment eligibility verification process is considered a form of hiring discrimination.
Settlement reached after DOJ concludes hiring discrimination
What the DOJ found was that the company had allegedly asked non-citizens to produce specific documents, while not asking the same of U.S. citizens. If an employer asks for specific hiring documents from one individual, the same request must be made for every person brought on board to avoid charges of discrimination. Essentially, it is much easier to allow new hires to bring in whatever they please off of the list of accepted documents, and then determine whether they are genuine from there.
"Nebraska Beef will have to pay the price for the alleged violations."
"The department is committed to ensuring that individuals who are authorized to work in the United States can support their families and contribute to our country's economic growth without facing unnecessary and discriminatory barriers to employment," Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division, explained in a press release. "We will vigorously enforce the law to remove such barriers where we find them, and ensure that affected individuals have a means of seeking relief."
Multiple penalties levied against Nebraska Beef
Though the meatpacking plant did cooperate with the investigation, it denied any wrongdoing regarding its hiring practices. Still, Nebraska Beef will have to pay the price for the alleged violations of the INA. And the price is a hefty one.
Nebraska Beef will have to pay a $200,000 civil penalty to the U.S. and set up an uncapped back pay fund to reimburse individuals who lost wages due to the company's alleged discriminatory practices during the hiring process. But, the meatpacking plant will be punished in more ways than one. Besides the financial cost of the alleged hiring discrimination, the company's hiring processes will also be strapped with extra burdens.
Nebraska Beef will be required to pay a monetary penalty, as well as implement several changes.
Hiring processes to be altered and monitored
The company will, of course, have to alter its hiring practices so that it asks the same of citizens and non-citizens during the employment eligibility verification process, according to the settlement agreement. Additionally, the employer will be required to post an OSC "If You Have The Right to Work" poster in the same place where other notices for employees and job applicants are located. The company will also have to provide all applicants with copies of the poster in multiple languages.
Additionally, for two years following the settlement, Nebraska Beef will be required to submit any changes in its hiring policies to the OSC for review. All employees involved in hiring will also be required to receive training on the use of E-Verify as well as employment eligibility verification processes.
Employers should not request specific documents from any new hire authorized to work in the U.S. This practice places these individuals at a disadvantage. As a result, this is considered to be a form of hiring discrimination. Instead, allow new hires to provide any of the List A, B or C acceptable documents.
A web-based Form I-9 solution creates a standardized process and may have helped avoid these I-9 mistakes.