In recent years the United States has focused on enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act, preventing employers from discriminating against potential employees who are not United States citizens. As the debate around immigration continues, one Colorado-based company found itself in the unique position of being accused of discriminating against employees not because they were suspected of not being citizens of the United States, but because they were citizens authorized to work in this country. In what was viewed as a twist on more well-known ethnic and national origin discrimination cases, a Colorado company was sued for discriminating against at least three United States citizens.
Crop Production Services, Inc. is a supplier of agronomic products including fertilizer and seed. Based in Loveland, Colorado, the company employees almost 10 thousand people and is worth at least $3 billion, making it one of the most recognized companies within the crop protection industry. With facilities throughout the United States, Crop Production Services would routinely fill temporary positions with workers who had experience in the agricultural field. For years no complaints were made regarding the way the company operated, but in 2016, qualified applicants began voicing concerns about the company’s hiring practices.
The first two potential employees to voice complaints were attempting to gain employment as temporary agricultural workers. Both workers were experienced in their field and applied for employment at rice breeding locations only to be denied an interview based on their status as United States citizens. As time went on, at least three more job applicants claimed that Crop Production Services refused to hire them based solely on their status as United States citizens. When the Department of Justice became involved, the investigation expanded to include 29 possible violations of United States hiring discrimination laws.
After concluding their investigation, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Crop Production Services on September 28, 2017, claiming that the company discriminated against United States citizen and hired only workers who held foreign visas. The company was accused of violating the Immigration and Nationality Act, citing claims made by applicants in 2016. As part of the settlement, the company will pay civil penalties and lost wages to the workers who were denied employment. The company will also participate in training regarding the anti-discrimination policies that they were accused of violating.
Discrimination against employees is an ongoing issue that shows no sign of stopping. Intentionally or through lack of knowledge, employers violate laws that guarantee equality at all stages of employment, including hiring. If you feel that you were denied an opportunity for employment based on a discriminatory reason, it is vital that you protect your rights and the rights of the employees who come after you. Contacting an experienced discrimination lawyer to discuss your situation is the first step in confronting and ending employment discrimination. The attorneys at HKM Employment are dedicated to representing employees from all backgrounds and industries. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation so that we can begin providing you with the representation you need and deserve.