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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Agreement with California Community Organization to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it has secured a settlement agreement with Youth UpRising, a community organization in Oakland, California, that provides youth services. The agreement resolves the department’s determination that Youth UpRising violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against a non-U.S. citizen employee based on citizenship status and retaliating against a second employee who tried to stop the discrimination.

“Employers cannot discriminate against workers when verifying their permission to work based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Workers also should not face negative consequences when they raise concerns about such discrimination, and the Justice Department will steadfastly protect those who assert rights on behalf of themselves or others under this law.”

The department’s investigation, which was initiated based on two complaints, revealed that Youth UpRising unlawfully discriminated against a newly hired non-U.S. citizen by rejecting her valid documentation showing her permission to work, and requiring other documentation because of her citizenship. The employee was fired when she could not comply with the unnecessary document demand. The department also concluded that Youth UpRising fired a different employee in retaliation for investigating the incident and trying to stop the discrimination. Under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, all employees have the right to choose the valid documentation they wish to present when demonstrating that they have permission to work in the United States, and to assert the rights protected under that provision without facing retaliation.

The settlement requires Youth UpRising to pay $10,360 in civil penalties – the maximum allowable in this instance. Because the former employees recovered their lost wages before the department completed its investigation, the settlement does not require any additional back pay. Under the agreement, the organization will also change its employment policies to comply with the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; train its board members and all employees who are responsible for verifying workers’ permission to work in the United States; and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.

Find more information on how employers can avoid discrimination when verifying permission to work on IER’s website. Learn more about how IER protects workers’ rights in this video. 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. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

View Spanish press release here.

Updated June 9, 2023

Labor & Employment
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-15