The Justice Department filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against a sorghum and soy farm in McAllen, Texas which also provides equipment and equipment operators for harvests at other farms.  The department alleges that the company discriminated against one of the U.S. citizens when it refused to hire him based on his citizenship status.

According to the department’s complaint, the injured party, a U.S. citizen with over twelve years’ experience operating cotton combines and tractors, applied for a position with the farm as a cotton picker operator around June of 2010.  The U.S. citizen was not hired but at the same time hired a number of seasonal foreign workers instead. The department found reasonable cause to believe that the company did not hire the U.S. citizen because it preferred to hire foreign workers under the H-2A visa program.  The H-2A visa program allows foreign nationals into the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work.

The H-2A visa program allows foreign nationals into the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work.  Employers that seek to participate in the program file an application with the U.S. Department of Labor certifying that they have actively tried to recruit U.S. workers for the jobs and that the temporary workers’ employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid filed a lawsuit with the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) within the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review on behalf of the two U.S. citizens on Nov. 14, 2011.   Because a complaint has already been filed, the department seeks to intervene in the existing lawsuit.