The Department of Justice today announced that it has secured a settlement agreement with Professional Maintenance Management (PMM), a cleaning and janitorial services company based in Maryland. The settlement resolves the department’s determination that PMM discriminated against its non-U.S. citizen workers when checking their permission to work in the United States, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
“Employers cannot treat employees differently because of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin when verifying their permission to work,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law to ensure that workers do not face discrimination when proving their permission to work in the United States.”
The department’s investigation determined that PMM routinely required specific documents from newly-hired non-U.S. citizens to prove they had permission to work in the United States. Specifically, the department found that PMM asked lawful permanent residents to show their permanent resident cards (sometimes known as “green cards”), and asylees and refugees to show their employment authorization documents (sometimes known as “work permits”), to prove their permission to work. At the same time, PMM allowed U.S. citizens to choose from among various acceptable document types.
Under the terms of the settlement, PMM will pay a civil penalty of $300,000 to the United States. Additionally, PMM will train staff on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, change its policies, and be subject to departmental monitoring for a three-year period.
Federal law allows workers to choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to demonstrate their identity and permission to work, regardless of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for specific documents because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. Indeed, many non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, are eligible for several of the same types of documents to prove their permission to work as U.S. citizens (such as driver’s licenses and unrestricted social security cards). Employers should allow workers to present whatever acceptable documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine.
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.
Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. Find more information on how employers can avoid discrimination when verifying permission to work on IER’s website. 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 free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER. View the Spanish translation of this press release here.