(DOJ: Office of Public Affairs) The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with Huber Nurseries, based in Manheim, Pa., resolving allegations that Huber engaged in citizenship status discrimination by preferring to hire temporary visa holders over recent lawful permanent residents from Nepal. The underlying charge was filed by Philadelphia Legal Assistance on behalf of the lawful permanent residents.
The Department of Justice investigation was initiated on Aug. 15, 2012 when six lawful permanent residents from Nepal were denied employment by the Pennsylvania nursery. The department concluded that Huber unlawfully preferred to hire twelve foreign national workers under the H-2A visa program and subjected the U.S. workers to different selection standards and increased scrutiny. The H-2A temporary agricultural program allows agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary agricultural work. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally prohibits employers from refusing to hire protected workers, including U.S. citizens, certain lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, based on their citizenship status.
Under the terms of the settlement, Huber has agreed to pay $2,250 in civil penalties to the United States and $59,617 in back pay to the six injured parties, who are former refugees. Huber has also agreed to provide its human resources personnel with training on the anti-discrimination requirements of the INA, adopt nondiscrimination policies with respect to recruitment and hiring and maintain and submit records to the Department of Justice for the one-year term of the agreement. Trial Attorney Richard Crespo represented the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) in this matter.
“Work-authorized individuals should not be denied access to jobs because of unlawful discrimination on the basis of immigration status or national origin,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased to have reached a settlement with Huber and look forward to continuing to work with employers to educate them about anti-discrimination protections and employer obligations under the law.”