War over words

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – It was something the US Department of Justice said that compelled Nebraska Beef to refuse to comply with the terms of a settlement reached in a civil rights action, according to the agency.

The DOJ launched a lawsuit against Nebraska Beef claiming the company failed to pay civil penalties by the deadline agreed to as part of a settlement agreement to resolve a civil rights investigation. The reason behind the company’s non-compliance, according to DOJ, lies in a press release issued by the agency announcing the settlement.

“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,” DOJ said in (another) press release. “The parties’ agreement, however, does not contain any terms or provisions restricting the language in the department’s press release.”

Omaha-based Nebraska Beef agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty to settle claims the processor discriminated against non-US citizen employees because of their immigration status. The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) revealed that Nebraska Beef required non-US citizens authorized to work in the United States to present specific documentary proof of their immigration status to verify employment eligibility; but did not enforce the requirement for “similarly situated US citizens.”

“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. “It is important that employers understand and abide by their duties not to engage in discriminatory practices, and honor their commitments under a settlement.”
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