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Monday, August 30, 2010
Justice Department Files a Lawsuit Alleging Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination by Arizona Community Colleges System

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Community College District, alleging that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to employment for work authorized non-citizens.  The Community College District, known as Maricopa Community Colleges, is located in Maricopa County, Ariz. 

The department’s investigation revealed that Maricopa Community Colleges required all newly hired non-citizens to present additional work authorization documents beyond those required by law, but did not require U.S. citizens to do so.  The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires employers to treat authorized workers in the same manner during the hiring process, regardless of their citizenship status.  Yet, Maricopa Community Colleges imposed different and greater documentary requirements on at least 247 non-U.S. citizens, and did not end this practice until January 2010, well after the Justice Department initiated its investigation.

“The INA’s anti-discrimination provision makes it unlawful to treat authorized workers differently during the hiring process based on their citizenship status,” said Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division.  “Our Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is acting now to remedy this pattern or practice of discrimination.”

The lawsuit charging Maricopa Community Colleges was filed before the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer within the Executive Office for Immigration Review, another component of the Department of Justice. 

OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, which protects work authorized individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of citizenship status or national origin discrimination, including discrimination in hiring and the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process.  For more information about protections against employment discrimination under the immigration laws, call 1-800-255-7688 (OSC’s worker hotline) (1-800-237-2525, TDD for hearing impaired), 1-800-255-8255 (OSC’s employer hotline) (1-800-362-2735, TDD for hearing impaired), or 202-616-5594; email osccrt@usdoj.gov; or visit OSC’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/osc.

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