A former employee of the pork production company owned by gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen sued Wednesday, alleging he was fired for refusing to participate in hiring workers without proper citizenship documents and falsifying documents so workers could avoid taxes.
Luis Lucar filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Pillen Family Farms Inc., alleging he lost his job because he wouldn’t participate in company practices he claimed were illegal.
A representative of the Pillen campaign said Thursday that the candidate was aware of the lawsuit and would issue a statement in response.
Pillen is the founder of Pillen Family Farms and one of three Republicans who have announced their candidacy for governor in 2022. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts is term limited and cannot run for a third term.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Lucar said he worked for Pillen Family Farms from 2012 until he was fired in 2019 for "inability to work with our team."
Lucar, who is from the Latin America country of Peru, said that he worked various jobs for the company, and in his position as human resources specialist, he hired workers and dealt with employee-related matters.
He alleged that he repeatedly complained and refused to participate in alleged illegal activities by the company, including hiring workers who lacked authorization to work in the U.S., changing names on government and company documents so workers could avoid paying taxes or child support, and misclassifying workers as "independent contractors" to avoid payment of taxes.
Lucar also claimed that company executives failed to address his complaints about discriminatory conduct against some workers because of their immigration status or ethnicity. Later, before he was fired, he alleged he was yelled and cursed at, excluded from meetings and training sessions, and accused of wrongdoing.
The lawyer who filed the lawsuit, Kathleeen Neary of Lincoln, said people may claim the lawsuit was politically motivated, but it was not. Lucar, she said, had filed a complaint with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission in April 2020, before Pillen became a candidate for governor.
"This case has substantial merit that a jury needs to hear," Neary said.