Washington Potato Company Settles Allegations of Work Authorization Discrimination

November 27, 2017

Washington Potato Company has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $100,000 to resolve a Department of Justice investigation into whether the Company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization. The DOJ’s investigation found that Washington Potato routinely requested work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present specific documents to confirm their citizenship status, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents, while verifying their authorization to work at the Freeze Pack plant, but it did not subject U.S. citizens to the same requests. Under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, employers are prohibited from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

In addition to the civil penalty, the settlement requires Washington Potato to train its staff, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, and submit to DOJ monitoring and reporting requirements.

The Justice Department noted that a May 2017 settlement agreement resolved litigation over similar discriminatory conduct by Washington Potato in its management of another facility located in Pasco, Washington.