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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Agreement with Florida Restaurant Franchisee 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 Florida-based Destin Wings LLC, doing business as Hooters of Destin (Destin Wings). The settlement resolves the department’s determination that Destin Wings violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against a non-U.S. citizen when checking her permission to work in the United States.

“While employers are legally obligated to verify every new hire’s permission to work in the United States, they cannot discriminate based on the employee’s citizenship status or national origin in the process,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously combat unlawful discrimination in the workplace and dismantle unnecessary obstacles to work.”

The department’s investigation began when a worker, a non-U.S. citizen, complained that Destin Wings refused to accept her valid documentation proving her permission to work and demanded additional documentation. Although she had permission to work in the United States, she was not able to obtain one of the documents that Destin Wings required because of her citizenship status. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for specific documents, or more documents than necessary, because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. Employers must allow workers to present whatever acceptable documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine.

The settlement requires Destin Wings to pay a civil penalty to the United States, provide backpay to the worker who complained to the department, train staff on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and be subject to departmental monitoring for a period of three years.

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

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

Updated April 10, 2023

Labor & Employment
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-389