Where’s the beef?

By Cate Chapman on October 14, 2015

The Justice Dept. has sued Nebraska Beef Ltd. for failing to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement that the parties entered to resolve a civil rights investigation.

The complaint alleges that Nebraska Beef entered into a settlement agreement with the Justice Dept. on Aug. 24, 2015, to resolve the department’s investigation into whether the Omaha-based company was discriminating against work-authorized non-citizens, the DOJ said in an Oct. 13 press release.

The agreement requires Nebraska Beef to pay $200,000 as a civil penalty, and also to compensate affected workers who present valid claims for backpay, among other terms. Although Nebraska Beef’s civil penalty payment was due 10 business days after the agreement was signed by both parties, the company has failed to make any payments.

Nebraska Beef has stated that it will not comply with almost all of the terms of the agreement because it feels that the department’s press release announcing the agreement should have been worded differently, the DOJ said. The parties’ agreement, however, does not contain any terms or provisions restricting the language in the department’s press release.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

“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,” said Principal Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.

The Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which was the subject of the department’s investigation of Nebraska Beef.  Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.

The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating against people with permission to work in the United States because of their citizenship status, including by asking non-citizens to present more or different documents than necessary to prove their authorization to work in the United States.