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The Justice Department announced today that it has secured a settlement agreement with Greene Kleen of South Florida Inc. (Greene Kleen), a janitorial services company based in Miami. The settlement agreement resolves the department’s determination that Greene Kleen violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against non-U.S. citizens when checking their permission to work in the United States.
“Employers cannot impose specific document requirements on workers to prove their permission to work that differ based on citizenship or immigration status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The department will not tolerate unlawful and discriminatory practices, which create unnecessary barriers to jobs for people who are just trying to make a living.”
The department’s investigation determined that, from at least Jan. 1, 2019, to Feb. 28, 2022, Greene Kleen routinely allowed U.S. citizens to choose which acceptable documentation to present to prove their permission to work but routinely required lawful permanent residents and other non-U.S. citizens to present only one kind of documentation.
Under the terms of the settlement, Greene Kleen will pay $140,000 in civil penalties to the United States, train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements, revise its employment policies and be subject to monitoring by the department.
Federal law allows all workers to choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to prove their identity and permission to work in the United States, regardless of citizenship status, immigration status or national origin. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for specific or unnecessary documents because of a worker’s citizenship status, immigration status or national origin. Indeed, many non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents, are eligible for several of the same types of documents to prove their permission to work as U.S. citizens are (for example, a state ID or driver’s license and an unrestricted Social Security card). Employers must allow workers to present whatever acceptable documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the worker.
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 discriminating when verifying someone’s permission to work on IER’s website. Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also 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); email IER@usdoj.gov; sign up for a live webinar on watch an on-demand presentation; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe for email updates from IER.