- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a Nebraska beef production plant it says has violated a settlement agreement because it didn’t like the agency’s news release about the settlement.

Omaha-based Nebraska Beef agreed in August to pay a $200,000 fine and back pay to affected workers as a means of settling a lawsuit in which the Justice Department alleged that the plant had discriminated against immigrants authorized to work in the U.S. The beef plant also promised to update its hiring practices to avoid discrimination and undergo government monitoring for two years.

A federal investigation showed the beef producer was requiring employees who aren’t citizens to provide proof of their immigration status, the department said, and workers who are citizens didn’t face the same requirements.

In the new lawsuit, the Justice Department said Nebraska Beef has refused to pay the fine and the affected workers. When pressed, Nebraska Beef disavowed its obligations under the settlement because “it feels that the department breached the settlement agreement by phrasing a press release differently from language in the agreement’s preface,” the lawsuit said.

“Defendant did not, and cannot, cite to any provision of the agreement or legal authority to support this position,” the Justice Department’s complaint said.

Nebraska Beef also advised the department in writing on Sept. 21 that it will not comply with any provisions of the settlement “except those that may incorporate defendant’s independent obligations to comply with the law,” the lawsuit said.

The Justice Department said it interprets that to mean Nebraska Beef will not change its policies and practices; require employee training to prevent future discrimination; or provide information about the company’s hiring practices to the government for compliance monitoring purposes.

An attorney for Nebraska Beef, Brian Brislen, said in an email Tuesday that the company is aware of the lawsuit and “will respond to the allegations in due course as allowed by law.”

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