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Press Release

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Technical Marine Maintenance Texas and Gulf Coast Workforce Alleging Discrimination Based on Citizenship Status

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against Louisiana-based companies Technical Marine Maintenance Texas LLC, which provides contract shipyard labor, and Gulf Coast Workforce LLC, a related company, alleging that they violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against applicants and employees during the employment eligibility verification process based on the workers’ citizenship status.

According to the complaint, from at least January 2014 until at least July 2017, Technical Marine Maintenance Texas limited the documentation workers could provide to establish their work authorization based on the workers’ citizenship status. Specifically, the company asked U.S. citizens to produce “IDs” and Social Security cards, while requesting immigration documents from non-U.S. citizens. Under the INA, all workers, regardless of their citizenship status, must be allowed to choose from among the valid documentation that proves their employment eligibility. The INA specifically prohibits employers from discriminating by limiting workers’ choices based on their citizenship status. The complaint also alleges that Gulf Coast Workforce is liable for Technical Marine Maintenance Texas’s actions because Gulf Coast employs or jointly employs the affected workers.

“The law protects both U.S. citizens and non-citizens from discriminatory obstacles during the Form I-9 or E-Verify processes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “Employers cannot limit the types of documents a worker can present to prove employment authorization, and if this limitation occurs because of citizenship status or national origin, the Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the law.”

The division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship, immigration status, and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, 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); sign up for a free webinar; email; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to: different documentary requirements based on their citizenship status, immigration status or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship status, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

Updated June 9, 2023

Labor & Employment
Press Release Number: 17-834