A harvesting company in Texas has agreed to settle U.S. Department of Justice claims that it discriminated against two workers based on their status as U.S. citizens, the agency said Aug. 24.
A. Olivarez Harvesting LLC initially agreed to employ a pair of workers who were U.S. citizens to harvest corn, “but then falsely told them that the harvesting work was no longer available and instead offered them warehouse jobs with a lower hourly wage,” according to DOJ.
It then filled those harvesting positions with temporary workers through the U.S. Department of Labor’s H-2A program, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, DOJ said. The employer will pay a total of $14,165 in civil penalties and back pay and interest, according to DOJ’s announcement.
The visa program generally requires employers to offer agricultural jobs to U.S. workers first, the agency explained.
“Employers engage in unlawful discrimination against U.S. workers by giving an advantage to temporary visa workers because of their citizenship or immigration status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in a statement. “The Justice Department will continue to enforce the anti-discrimination provision of the INA to ensure that employers do not unlawfully deny employment to workers in the community because of their citizenship status, regardless of whether those workers are U.S. citizens or immigrants with permission to work in the United States.”