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Press Release

Justice Department Settles with Donut Shop Franchise to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with SV Donuts Inc. LLC (SV Donuts), a Maryland corporation that owns two Dunkin Donuts store franchises. The settlement resolves a claim that the company discriminated against a lawful permanent resident because of his immigration status by not allowing him to choose which valid documentation to present to show his permission to work.

Before filing the complaint that prompted the department’s investigation, the aspiring worker called the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) hotline for help in overcoming the company’s refusal to accept his unrestricted Social Security card and valid driver’s license — documents that are sufficient to show permission to work in the United States. IER’s hotline offers information and assistance to workers and employers to prevent discrimination and to resolve potential immigration-related employment disputes informally, when workers request such intervention. At the worker’s request, an IER attorney called the store manager and provided information that would have informally resolved the matter and allowed the caller to begin working. Despite receiving this information, the manager insisted that the worker’s Social Security card and valid driver’s license were not acceptable documents and that the worker had to provide an unexpired permanent resident card before he could begin working.

Based on its investigation, the department determined that SV Donuts violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it rejected the worker’s valid work documentation, requested specific documentation, and delayed his hiring because of his immigration status. The investigation also revealed that the company erroneously believed that the worker had to provide an unexpired permanent resident card in part because of E-Verify requirements. 

“Employers must give workers the opportunity to freely choose and present any document from those deemed acceptable for showing that someone has permission to work in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Employers can contact IER’s hotline and get information to help them avoid committing unlawful discrimination. The Justice Department looks forward to working with SV Donuts to ensure it meets its obligations to avoid employment discrimination in the future.”

Federal law allows all individuals, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, to choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to demonstrate their identity and permission to work in the United States. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary or limiting employees’ choice of documents based on the employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin. 

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, SV Donuts will pay a civil penalty to the United States and back pay to the affected worker. Additionally, SV Donuts will train its employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, including an IER-provided training, and be subject to monitoring for a three-year period to ensure the company is complying with the agreement.  

IER is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination 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. 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, can file a charge. The public also can contact IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688; call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

Updated November 18, 2021

Civil Rights
Labor & Employment
Press Release Number: 21-1151