Colorado-based Crop Production Services sued by the federal government
Crop Production Services
Crop Production Services is part of Agrium, an agriculture retailer based in Canada.
For more information go to www.cpsagu.com
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against a Colorado-based company, claiming it favored hiring temporary, foreign-born workers.
On Sept. 28, the Justice Department announced the lawsuit against Crop Production Services Inc., based in Loveland, Colo., after the company denied Javier Salinas and Ramiro Salinas seasonal work and didn’t allow Ramiro Torres to interview for a job, due to their citizenship, at the company’s rice breeding station in El Campo, Texas.
The lawsuit states the three were referred by the Texas Workforce Commission to interview for three of the 15 open positions for seasonal technicians. Torres was denied an interview, even though he was present at the interview on Feb. 24, 2016, the lawsuit states. Ramiro and Javier Salinas were both interviewed.
Following the interviews, job applications and copies of the Salinas’s Social Security cards and driver’s licenses were required. They were also required to take a pre-employment drug test.
According to the lawsuit, the Texas Workforce Commission did submit the applications, “including information from their driver’s licenses” about two days after the interviews took place. About a month later, there was another request from CPS to provide Social Security numbers. They were required, in part, to complete background checks. According to the lawsuit, some of the H-2A workers for CPS didn’t need to have a background check done before they started work, with some background check processes starting after they had already started working for the company.
CPS didn’t allow either of the Salinas’s to finish the hiring process in El Campo or to begin work there until the rest of the hiring requirements for them were completed, according to the lawsuit.
However, around the end of April 2016, there were 15 H-2A workers who filled all the seasonal positions. The lawsuit claims those workers were able to complete the application process, including drug testing, when they arrived in El Campo, something the lawsuit states wasn’t afforded to Javier and Ramiro Salinas.
Also, according to the lawsuit, eight of the H-2A workers took drug tests near El Campo, and seven weren’t required to take one at all in 2016. There were also two H-2A workers who didn’t have Social Security numbers when they arrived, but were helped by Kirk Johnson, the manager of the facility to obtain them.
Nowhere in the lawsuit does it state either of the Salinas’s submitted their Social Security numbers or cards to CPS, nor does it state whether or not the Salinas’s completed the drug tests.
The lawsuit claims Torres, Ramiro Salinas and Javier Salinas were all discriminated against based on their citizenship.
The H-2A program requires employers to have the same requirements for potential U.S. workers as they do foreign workers. Employers also must make the job available to U.S. workers first without trying to dissuade them from the job in order to hire foreign workers.
In April of this year, President Donald Trump signed the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. In the Justice Department’s news release regarding the lawsuit, Attorney General Jeff Sessions noted the order’s importance in conjunction with the lawsuit.
“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, the Department of Justice will not tolerate employers who discriminate against U.S. workers because of a desire to hire temporary foreign visa holders,” Sessions said. “The Justice Department will enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to protect U.S. workers as they are the very backbone of our communities and our economy. Where there is a job available, U.S. workers should have a chance at it before we bring in workers from abroad.”
The lawsuit states that the U.S. workers were not afforded the same expectations during the hiring process, which not only goes against the intent of the executive order — which is normally a president’s statement of direction or suggestion rather than a law that can be enforced. But if CPS did require more stringent expectations of Torres, Ramiro Salinas or Javier Salinas, that is a violation of H-2A policy.
The lawsuit claims both of the Salinas’s were discriminated against based on their citizenship because of the requirements of submitting their applications, taking a drug test and not being able to finish the hiring process on their first day of work, even though the H-2A workers allegedly weren’t held to the same requirements.
The lawsuit claimed Torres was given an “unnecessary job requirement … particularly English proficiency …” which was not required of the H-2A workers, according to the lawsuit. It stated three of the H-2A workers were returning workers who were known to be bilingual and at least two other workers weren’t proficient in English.
According to the Loveland Reporter-Herald, the response from CPS stated it’s “determining a response,” in an unsigned email, but CPS won’t comment on the lawsuit.