Texas Farm Accused of Discriminating Against U.S. Citizen Job Applicants in Favor of H-2A Foreign Workers

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

A Texas farm has been accused of discriminating against U.S. citizen workers, and instead favoring foreign workers hired under the H-2A temporary worker visa program.

In June 2010, a U.S. citizen with more than 12 years of experience in the agricultural industry said in a complaint that he had applied for a job as a cotton picker operator at Estopy Farms, of McAllen, Texas. He was rejected, but during the same period, Estopy Farms hired a number of seasonal foreign workers under the H-2A program. The U.S. citizen claims he was rejected because of his citizenship.

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Office filed a lawsuit with the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) within the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review on behalf of this applicant along, with another U.S. citizen. The lawsuit alleges violations of H-2A program rules, which require employers to certify that they have actively tried to recruit U.S. workers and that the hiring of foreign workers is not adversely affecting the working conditions of similarly employed U.S. citizen workers.

The Department of Justice also has filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit in conjunction with its role of enforcing the INA’s anti-discrimination provisions. The DOJ pursues employers accused of discriminatory hiring practices.

Employer discrimination is wrong in the U.S., whether it’s discrimination against foreign workers or against U.S. citizen workers.