Cazorla v. Koch Foods of Mississippi, LLC, No. 15-60562 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, Hispanic employees of Koch, a poultry processor, filed suit alleging harassment and abuse on the job. Koch claims that plaintiffs made up the allegations in order to benefit from the U-visa program. The U-visa program has offered temporary nonimmigrant status to victims of “substantial physical or mental abuse” resulting from certain offenses, including sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, extortion, and felonious assault. This appeal concerns Koch’s attempt to obtain concrete evidence of this malfeasance – namely, any and all records relating to plaintiffs' speculated U visa applications – through discovery. Confirming that it has jurisdiction, the court rejected Koch's waiver claim regarding plaintiffs' section 1367 claims. The court found the D.C. Circuit’s decision in In re England to be persuasive, where the D.C. Circuit construed a provision barring disclosure of certain military promotion records to any person not a member of the promotion board to forbid civil discovery of the records. In regard to section 1367's application to the EEOC, the court concluded that section 1367’s similar text and analogous purpose counsel the same result here as in England. However, section 1367 does not bar discovery of the records from the individual claimants. Their protection, if any, lies in the basic constraints of the discovery process. The court could not conclude that the district court abused its discretion in finding U visa discovery relevant and potentially probative of fraud. However, the court concluded that the discovery the district court approved would impose an undue burden and must be redefined. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to devise an approach to U visa discovery that adequately protects the diverse and competing interests at stake.