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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

Litigation Involving Nebraska Beef’s Reneged Settlement Continues

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By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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A U.S. District Judge in Nebraska has ruled in favor of the Department of Justice’s Show Cause Motion in the never-ending saga of Nebraska Beef Ltd. reneging on a settlement that it reached in August 2015 with the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (now the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER)) of the Department of Justice.

As you may recall, Nebraska Beef and the OSC reached a settlement concerning whether Nebraska Beef was discriminating against work-authorized immigrants by requiring non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documentary proof of their immigration status to verify their employment eligibility in violation of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA). In the settlement, Nebraska Beef agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty.

However, before the civil penalty was due, a Department of Justice press release stated the government “found” Nebraska Beef to have violated the law. The settlement had stated the OSC had a “reasonable cause to believe” Nebraska Beef had violated the INA. Nebraska Beef asserted the press release’s inaccuracy materially breached the settlement agreement because Nebraska Beef did not admit liability and excused the company’s payment of $200,000.

Thereafter, the OSC filed for enforcement of the settlement agreement in federal court in Nebraska. The District Court found no material breach occurred and ordered Nebraska Beef to pay the $200,000 and perform all settlement obligations. After an appeal of the order, the Court stayed the company’s obligation to pay the $200,000 civil penalty but not the company’s other obligations – training, reporting, and notifying potential back pay claimants and providing such information to the IER of the DOJ.

Nebraska Beef did not timely comply with the non-monetary portions of the order even though these provisions had not been stayed. Thus, the DOJ filed a Motion to Show Cause as to why Nebraska Beef was not in contempt of court.

The District Court granted the government’s motion and ordered Nebraska Beef to show why it should not be held in contempt of court. I will update this case when the Court decides whether Nebraska Beef is in contempt of court.

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