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Lawsuit brought against Howard for 'withholding jobs'

LAUREL — A company that pleaded guilty to conspiracy related to the nation’s largest workplace raid on illegal immigrants has been accused in a civil lawsuit of intentionally withholding jobs from U.S. citizens.

Immigration agents detained about 600 illegal immigrants at Howard Industries’ plant in Laurel in 2008. The company pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to violate immigration laws. It was fined $2.5 million.

A lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court Friday, claims the company’s hiring practices gave preferential treatment to illegal immigrants. The lawsuit seeks class action status.

Howard industries had no comment on the lawsuit.

Howard Industries denied knowing that illegal immigrants worked at the plant, blaming the situation on its former personnel director. He was the only company executive charged. His sentencing is Thursday.

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