The Justice Department announced today that it has secured a $700,000 agreement with Covenant Transport Inc. (Covenant), as well as the affiliated entity Transport Management Services LLC (Transport), two transportation logistics and long-haul trucking companies headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The agreement resolves the department’s determination that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by routinely discriminating against non-U.S. citizen workers when checking their permission to work in the United States.
“Employers cannot discriminate against non-U.S. citizens by demanding specific or unnecessary documents from them to prove their permission to work,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to ensuring compliance with our federal civil rights laws so that non-U.S. citizens with permission to work can contribute their talents to our workforce.”
The department’s investigation found that from January 2020 through at least August 2022, Covenant and Transport routinely discriminated against non-U.S. citizens by requiring lawful permanent residents to show their Permanent Resident Cards (known as green cards) and by requiring other non-U.S. citizens to show documents related to their immigration status.
Federal law allows all workers to choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to demonstrate their identity and permission to work, regardless of citizenship status, immigration status or national origin. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requiring 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.
Under the terms of the agreement, Covenant and Transport will pay $700,000 in civil penalties to the United States, train their employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements, revise their employment policies and be subject to monitoring by the department.
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 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 or watch an on-demand presentation or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe for email updates from IER.