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United Farm Workers and Farmworker Justice v. Department of Labor

We brought this case under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the Department of Labor (DOL) to release public records requested by the United Farm Workers (UFW) and Farmworker Justice (FJ). UFW and FJ had made a series of seven FOIA requests to DOL for documents related to employer applications for certification to hire temporary foreign agricultural workers through the H-2A guestworker program, but DOL failed to produce many of the requested records and had denied plaintiffs’ requests for fee waivers.

In order to obtain time-sensitive documents pending resolution of the fee waiver issue, we filed a motion for leave to deposit funds to the Court’s registry. The motion was granted and DOL was ordered to produce the requested records.

The parties then filed cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs argued that they were entitled to a fee waiver and that DOL had failed to produce all of the requested records and had failed to justify its redactions to the documents that had been produced. Rather than oppose plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, DOL gave up and conceded that UFW and FJ had established their entitlement to a fee waiver, and conceded that it had produced documents with improper redactions and had failed to produce certain responsive documents. DOL then reprocessed its responses to correct the improper redactions and include previously omitted documents, and plaintiffs were granted leave to withdraw the funds they had deposited in the Court’s registry. On September 11, 2008, the Court entered an order approving the parties’ stipulation of settlement pursuant to which DOL paid plaintiffs $60,000 in attorneys’ fees.