In a recent development, an administrative law judge has ruled against Smithfield Foods in a dispute with the U.S. Department of Labor over documentation for the H-2B program. The program permits U.S. employers to hire foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural positions.
The judge’s decision was grounded in Smithfield’s failure to adequately prove the temporary nature of the job and the necessity for the specified number of workers, as outlined in court records. The Department of Labor’s certifying officer identified deficiencies in Smithfield’s documentation, leading to the denial of their application.
Smithfield Fresh Meat Corp. has appealed for an administrative review of the decision. This case is just one of 10 ongoing disputes between the processor and the DOL, each involving the use of the H-2B program in various processing plants nationwide.
Despite calls for consolidation, Smithfield argued against combining the cases, asserting that they have unique facts, positions, and locations. The company sought to hire 29 “general production meat processors” for a specific period, citing a peak load need. However, the certifying officer raised concerns about the sales report provided, noting inconsistencies and questioning the legitimacy of the peak load need based on data discrepancies.
This ruling underscores the challenges faced by Smithfield in securing H-2B certification and the importance of thorough documentation in proving the temporary nature and necessity of positions in the program.