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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 21, 2010
Justice Department Settles Citizenship Status Discrimination Claims Against Morton’s Restaurant in Portland, Oregon

The Justice Department today announced that it has reached an agreement with Morton’s of Chicago/Portland Inc. to settle allegations that it required two non-citizens authorized to work in the United States to present more documents than legally required to establish their work eligibility. Morton’s fired the workers after it rejected their valid Social Security cards and demanded to see additional documentation establishing their work authorization. In contrast, Morton’s routinely permitted U.S. citizens to present their Social Security cards for this purpose.

Under the terms of the out-of-court settlement, Morton’s has agreed to provide full back pay of $2,880 and $5,715.62 to the two employees, pay a civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury of $2,200 and train Morton’s Portland employees on federal protections for workers against citizenship status and national origin discrimination. Morton’s of Chicago Inc., the parent company, has also agreed to provide complete information about properly conducting the employment eligibility verification process to its managers and employees nationwide who have any role in completing the government’s Form I-9 process to determine work authorization.

As part of the settlement, the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) will monitor Morton’s for one year to ensure compliance with the settlement agreement. OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which protects work authorized individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of citizenship status or national origin discrimination, including discrimination in the Form I-9 process.

"Our nation’s laws ensure that all individuals who are authorized to work in this country can do so without fear of discrimination or retaliation because of their citizenship status or national origin," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that all authorized U.S. workers, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are afforded equal opportunity in the workplace."

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under federal immigration law, 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. You can also e-mail osccrt@usdoj.gov, or visit the website at www.justice.gov/crt/osc.

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