Justice Department settles U.S. Worker Discrimination claims against New Mexico farm 

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WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced on Tuesday May 23rd that it has reached a settlement agreement with Carrillo Farm Labor, LLC (Carrillo Farm), an onion farm in Deming, New Mexico.  The settlement resolves the department’s investigation of complaints that Carrillo Farm discriminated against U.S. citizens due to a hiring preference for foreign visa workers.

After investigating complaints filed on behalf of two U.S. citizens, the Justice Department determined that Carrillo Farm denied U.S. citizens employment in 2016 because it wanted to hire temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program.  Under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), it is unlawful for employers to intentionally discriminate against U.S. citizens because of their citizenship status.  

The settlement agreement requires Carrillo Farm to pay civil penalties to the United States, undergo department-provided training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, and comply with departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.  In a separate agreement with workers represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Carrillo Farm agreed to pay a total of $44,000 in lost wages to affected U.S. workers.

“U.S. workers are the backbone of our economy, and the Justice Department will not tolerate employers discriminating against them because of their citizenship status,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division.  “The department is wholeheartedly committed to challenging discriminatory hiring preferences that disfavor U.S. workers.  We commend Texas RioGrande for bringing the matter to our attention and applaud Carrillo Farm for cooperating with the department to implement the corrective actions necessary to resolve this matter.”

This settlement is part of a Justice Department enforcement initiative dedicated to combatting employment discrimination against U.S. workers. 

The Division’s Immigration and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; 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, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.