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Lawsuit claims meat processor hires undocumented workers to suppress wages

DELPHI, Ind. (WISH) — A federal lawsuit claims that 15-20% of hourly workers hired over the last four years by a meat processing plant are undocumented, illegal workers.

That’s one of the claims filed in class-action complaint against two employees of Indiana Packers Corporation in Delphi, Indiana.

The suit names Marisol Martinez and James Harding as defendants. Martinez is a human resources worker at the company and Harding, her supervisor, in human resources director.

The suit was brought by Andrew O’Shea, a former employee at the facility.

Court documents allege that IPC hires a large amount of “drop-out-plus-one” workers, meaning workers that are high school dropouts with either an arrest record, recent physical injury or an unstable work history. O’Shea states that he fits that profile. O’Shea also says that by hiring undocumented workers, the company is able to keep wages low.

O’Shea alleges that Martinez knowingly hired hundreds of undocumented workers since 2012 by hiring workers with fake Social Security cards. Court documents claim an IPC supervisor once said “Marisol [Martinez] will get me some more illegals” when he needed more workers on the the production line. O’Shea also claims that many workers admit to being undocumented, working under fake names or that they had previously worked at the facility under a different name.

On Wednesday, the company responded to the lawsuit, saying in part:

First, despite the lawsuit claiming to assert allegations about hiring practices over a four-year period of time, the plaintiff was only employed for two brief stints and he had nothing to do with the company’s hiring practices.

Second, company’s hiring practices were specifically evaluated during a recent government audit.

“As part of that audit, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement inspected company I-9 forms as well as supporting documentation,” said Jeff Feirick, Vice President Corporate Planning. “The outcome – in which government thanked Indiana Packers Corporation for its cooperation and concluded ‘there is no basis for further investigation’ obviously speaks for itself.”

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