Department of Justice Seal


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1998 (202) 616-2777

TDD (202) 514-1888



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A janitorial service that unlawfully required workers to produce certain immigration-related documents and fired an employee who complained about workplace discrimination has agreed to pay more than $10,000 in penalties and back pay, under an agreement reached with the Justice Department.

The agreement requires the Georgia-based ISS-International Service System, Inc., to pay the United States $4,800 in civil penalties, rehire the fired employee, and provide her $5,508 in back pay. The agreement settles allegations that its Chicago branch retaliated against a work-authorized non-U.S. citizen. ISS, which reached the agreement last month, paid the penalties and back pay last Thursday.

In a charge filed under the antidiscrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Antonia Mata alleged that she was fired from her janitorial position because she complained about her rights under the law. An investigation by

the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), of the Civil Rights Division, found that ISS violated the retaliation provision of INA.

It also found that ISS committed document abuse by requiring non-U.S. citizens to produce documents that were not specifically required to establish the workers' identity and work eligibility. Potential workers--both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens alike--are allowed to provide employers any documents they choose as proof of their identity and work authorization, as long as they are listed on an employment form, known as a Form I-9. ISS allegedly required non-U.S. citizens to provide specific documents, as opposed to allowing them to produce whichever acceptable document or documents they chose to produce.

"Under the law, Congress made clear that all individuals, regardless of citizenship status, may present any acceptable combination of documents to prove their identity and work authorization," said Special Counsel John Trasviña. Trasviña noted that employers cannot force potential workers to present specific documents, such as INS-issued documents or "green cards", as long as the worker produces other documents that prove the workers identity and authorization to work in the country.

In addition to paying civil penalties and back pay, ISS agreed to reinstate Mata, provide training for personnel at its Chicago branch concerning their responsibilities under INA, and post notices regarding the antidiscrimination provisions of INA.

The Office of Special Counsel was established by Congress under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which prohibited employment discrimination based on national origin and citizenship status. The law was amended in 1990 to include the document abuse and retaliation provisions. Since its inception, OSC has received more than 5,800 charges, recovered more than $1.8 million in back pay for victims of discrimination and collected more than $1.2 million in civil penalties.

Individuals seeking more information about assistance provided by OSC may call: 1-800-255-7688 (TDD 1-800-237-2515), or write to:

Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related

Unfair Employment Practices

P.O. Box 27728

Washington, D.C. 20038-7728

OSC's e-mail address is: and appears on the World Wide Web at

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