July 2021

Pilgrim’s Pride Defeats DOJ Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination Charges

United States - Georgia

Pilgrim’s Pride, a multi-national food company and one of the largest chicken producers in the United States, defeated five charges filed in the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The charges were brought by five U.S. workers alleging reverse discrimination, asserting that the company unlawfully terminated their employment when it outsourced the work in favor of obtaining contract workers of a different citizenship status. Faegre Drinker defended the company in the complex matter which included responding to multiple discovery requests and defending multiple witness interviews. Faegre Drinker successfully argued that the company had legitimate reasons for outsourcing the positions, and that the charging parties lacked any evidence that the company was aware of the citizenship status of the contract workers. After a 19-month investigation, the IER dismissed the charges against the company and determined the IER did not have reasonable cause to believe that the company discriminated against the charging parties.

The IER enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, which prohibits (1) citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; (2) national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; (3) unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9 and E-Verify; and (4) retaliation or intimidation.

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