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Seymour-Based Egg Producer Accused Of Worker Discrimination

Rose Acre Farms is being sued by the Justice Department for allegedly asking for too much paperwork from non-U.S. citizen workers.

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Photo: Ivy Dawned (Flickr)

Rose Acre Farms is a major U.S. egg producer with 40 facilities in six states and based out of Seymour, Indiana.

A Seymour-based egg producer is being sued by the federal government. Justice Department officials say Rose Acre Farms discriminated against potential employees who are not U.S. citizens by asking for more paperwork than was required.

There are several documents immigrants use to verify that it’s legal for them to work. But if someone has a form of identification that satisfies federal work requirements, employers can’t ask for more documentation.

That’s where Rose Acre Farms got into trouble. Chief Operating Officer Tony Wesner says a lot of their workers use green cards, so the Department of Justice became suspicious.

“The government is saying that because a large portion of ours was green cards we must be demanding that and discriminating against others and that’s absolutely not the case,” he says.

Wesner says they treat all their workers fairly but also says the federal law is complex.

“They’re saying that we were too stringent and that we asked for too much documentation to make sure that who we were hiring was legal,” he says. “You can also be in trouble if you don’t make sure they’re legal so it’s kind of a Catch 22.”

Justice Department officials declined to expand on the case, but in a statement Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez says “the department is committed to removing discriminatory hurdles to employment through the enforcement of the anti-discrimination provision.”

The statement says Rose Acre Farms purchased an eligibility verification software system in June 2009 that may have prompted human resource officials to demand documents that violated federal law.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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