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The Justice Department announced that it has secured a settlement agreement with Navajo Express, a Colorado-based trucking company that operates nationwide. The settlement resolves the department’s determination that Navajo Express violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against non-U.S. citizen workers when checking their permission to work in the United States.
“When employers reject workers’ valid documentation proving their permission to work and demand other types of documentation, they construct unnecessary hurdles that can mean the difference between a worker getting a job or not,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to hold employers accountable for discriminating against workers because of citizenship, immigration status or national origin.”
The department’s investigation began after a non-U.S. citizen complained that Navajo Express refused to accept valid documentation proving his permission to work and demanded a different document from him. The department’s investigation determined that Navajo Express routinely required lawful permanent residents to show their permanent resident cards (known as “green cards”) to prove their permission to work, even when they had already presented other valid documentation. The investigation also revealed that Navajo Express had a policy of unlawfully requiring permanent residents to provide new permanent resident cards when their old permanent resident cards expired, even though such documentation is unnecessary.
Under the terms of the settlement, Navajo Express will pay more than $40,000 in civil penalties to the United States, train staff on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, review and revise their employment policies, and be subject to departmental monitoring for a two-year period.
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, 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 must allow workers to present whatever acceptable documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine. In addition, if a lawful permanent resident provides an unexpired permanent resident card to prove their permission to work, employers must not request new documentation if the permanent resident card later expires.
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 IER@usdoj.gov; 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.