DOJ Takes Company Investigated For Requiring Work Authorization Proof Back to Court

Nebraska Beef AP

The Obama administration is taking the Nebraska beef company the Justice Department initially accused of discrimination for requiring non-citizens to prove work eligibility back to court for failing to pay a negotiated settlement.

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with Nebraska Beef, Ltd. in August after alleging that the company was violating the law “by routinely requiring non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documents to prove their work authorization.”

The agreed-to settlement required Nebraska Beef to pay a $200,000 civil penalty to the government and offer a limitless back-pay fund to compensate those who lost wages due to the company’s practices. It also called for the company to update its policies, train employees on the anti-discrimination provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act and be subject to monitoring for two years.

“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,” Civil Rights Division head Vanita Gupta said in August, at the time of the settlement.

Nebraska Beef, however, has refused to pay up.

The company, according to the Justice Department’s filing with the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, has said it will not comply with the terms of the settlement because the Justice Department’s press release used different verbiage than the preface of the settlement.

Namely, as highlighted by the Omaha World-Herald, the settlement read that the government’s investigation concluded there was “reasonable cause to believe that Respondent used documentary practices based on citizenship status in violation of the law.”

The DOJ’s press release, by comparison, asserted that the investigation “found that the company required non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documentary proof of their immigration status to verify their employment eligibility.”

Counsel for Nebraska Beef, Omaha firm Lamson, Dugan & Murray’s Brian Brislen, told the World-Herald that they would “respond to the allegations in due course as allowed by law.”

The DOJ argues that there was no provision in the settlement placing limitations on its press release.

“The Department of Justice will take swift action not only when an employer discriminates against its employees, but also when an employer fails to live up to its end of an agreement,” Gupta said Monday. “It is important that employers understand and abide by their duties not to engage in discriminatory practices, and honor their commitments under a settlement.”