Smithfield subsidiary faces D.O.J. lawsuit

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Farmland Foods, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Inc., alleging that the company engaged in a pattern of discrimination by imposing unnecessary documentary requirements on non-U.S. citizens when establishing their eligibility to work in the United States.

“Farmland Foods, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to promoting and cultivating a workforce that will enhance the company’s competitiveness in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world,” said Keira Lombardo, vice-president of investor relations and corporate communications for Smithfield Foods. “Farmland is aware that the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices has issued a complaint against it. The company has not yet received the complaint or had the opportunity to review it.”

An investigation conducted by the D.O.J. revealed that Farmland required all newly hired non-U.S. citizens and some foreign-born citizens at its Monmouth, Ill., facility to present extra work authorization documents beyond those required by federal law.

“Employers may not treat authorized workers differently during the hiring process based on their citizenship status,” said Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general in charge of the D.O.J.’s Civil Rights Division. “Federal law prohibits discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process, and the Justice Department is committed to enforcing the law.”

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