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Press Release

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Arapahoe, Colo., Sheriff’s Office to Resolve Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Arapahoe County, Colo. Office of the Sheriff resolving allegations that the Office of the Sheriff violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  


The investigation was initiated based on information obtained in the course of a lawsuit filed by a former employee against the Sheriff’s Office alleging discriminatory termination.  The Department’s investigation established that the Office of the Sheriff improperly restricted law enforcement positions to U.S. citizens notwithstanding the fact that no law, regulation, executive order or government contract authorized it to restrict employment in this manner. The former employee who filed the lawsuit was in fact a U.S. citizen and had documentation that showed her work authorization but not her citizenship.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits certain discriminatory hiring practices against work-authorized individuals and permits employers to limit jobs to U.S. citizens only where the employer is required to do so by law, regulation, executive order, or government contract. 


Under the settlement agreement, the Office of the Sheriff’s employment eligibility verification practices will be subject to monitoring by the Justice Department and reporting requirements for a period of three years.  The Sheriff’s Office also agreed to pay $500 in civil penalties to the United States.  The Office of the Sheriff had already addressed the identified victim’s back pay claims through an earlier agreement based on her private lawsuit.  In addition, the Office of the Sheriff informed other affected non-U.S. citizen applicants that they could re-apply for available law enforcement positions.  The Sheriff’s Office denied that it committed any violation of the anti-discrimination provision but fully cooperated with the investigation and agreed to revise its hiring policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.


“Employers must ensure that their hiring practices do not violate the anti-discrimination provision of the INA,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “Any restrictions in hiring based on citizenship status must be pursuant to requirements established by law or government contract, not internal policies.  The Office of the Sheriff’s cooperation and its efforts to reach out to non-citizens affected by its past policies reflect its commitment to address the issues raised in this investigation in a meaningful manner.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.   For more information about protections against employment discrimination under the immigration laws, call the OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2525, TTY for hearing impaired), call the OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-362-2735, TTY for hearing impaired), sign up for a free webinar at , email or visit the website at .

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 13-1112