FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 2000(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
MARYLAND COMPANY WILL PAY MORE THAN $230,000 TO SETTLE
DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT WITH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
WASHINGTON, DC -- A Maryland food processing plant that required certain work authorization documents from some, but not all, employees has agreed to pay $97,000 in civil penalties and contribute $135,000 to a worker security fund to settle discrimination complaints filed by the Justice Department and a workers' union on behalf of more than 660 legal immigrant workers.
The Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) sued Townsend Culinary Inc., of Laurel, Maryland in October 1997, after investigating charges brought by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400 on behalf of two female Salvadoran immigrants.
OSC's investigation revealed that Townsend illegally fired the two women, who were authorized to work in the United States, because they did not produce work authorization documents issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Townsend denied that it discriminated against anyone.
Today's settlement resolves actions against Townsend which, in August, 1999 was ordered by Administrative Law Judge Joseph E. McGuire to pay $367,000 in civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury and more than $13,400 in back pay to the two workers, Delmy Guerrero and Ana Torres. The company appealed Judge McGuire's decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and under the terms of this settlement, will withdraw its appeal.
"Today's settlement makes it clear that authorized workers have a legal remedy to fight discrimination at work," said Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
In his decision, Judge McGuire found that Townsend discriminated against Guerrero, Torres and other non-U.S. citizens by requiring them to present INS-issued documents while allowing U.S. citizens to present any acceptable documents to satisfy INS form I-9 requirements. The judge held that Townsend's conduct constituted a pattern or practice of document abuse and citizenship status discrimination against non-U.S. citizens.
"This is a victory not only for the immigrant women workers who had the courage to come forward, but for all workers. Immigrant workers do not have to fight discrimination alone," said Special Counsel, John Trasviña.
OSC was established in 1987 to ensure that all work-authorized individuals -- U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens alike -- are not subject to discrimination because of their national origin or citizenship status. Individuals seeking more information about assistance provided by OSC may call 1-800-255-7688 (toll free) or (202) 616-5594 or write to:
Office of Special Counsel for
Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices Post Office Box 27728 Washington, D.C. 20038-7728 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/osc