The Department of Justice today announced it has reached a settlement agreement with Rehrig Pacific Company (Rehrig Pacific), headquartered in California. The settlement resolves allegations that Rehrig Pacific discriminated against a non-U.S. citizen when, because of his citizenship status, it did not give him the opportunity to produce his choice of valid documentation proving his permission to work.
“It is unlawful for employers to restrict the documentation that workers can present to prove their authorization to work based on citizenship or immigration status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to safeguard the rights of workers who face unlawful discrimination.”
The department’s investigation began after a non-U.S. citizen filed a discrimination complaint. The investigation determined that when the company was checking his continued permission to work, it instructed him to produce a new document from the Department of Homeland Security. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from limiting or specifying the types of documentation a worker is allowed to show to prove permission to work, because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. As a result, even when an employer has a legal requirement to check a worker’s continued permission to work, the employer should allow the worker to present whatever valid documentation the worker chooses.
Under the settlement, Rehrig Pacific will pay civil penalties to the United States and train its employees who are responsible for verifying workers’ permission to work in the United States. The settlement also requires Rehrig Pacific to be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.
The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.
Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. More information on how employers can avoid unfair documentary practices is available here. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email [email protected]; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER. View the Spanish translation of this press release here.