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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Claim Against Luis Esparza Services, Inc.

The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Luis Esparza Services, Inc. (LES), a farm labor contractor company based in Bakersfield, California, resolving claims that the company discriminated against individuals because of citizenship status in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  This agreement contains the largest civil penalty the Justice Department has ever secured to resolve a discrimination claim under the INA.

The Justice Department’s investigation found that LES required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to produce documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security as a condition of employment, but did not require the same of U.S. citizen workers.  The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on workers during the employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status.

Under the settlement agreement, LES will pay $320,000 in civil penalties; compensate a worker who lost wages due to LES’s employment eligibility verification practices; undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; revise its employment eligibility verification policies; and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for three years.

“Creating unlawful discriminatory barriers that prevent work-authorized immigrants from working is unacceptable,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department is committed to removing these barriers and ensuring equal employment opportunities.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.  The case was handled by OSC Trial Attorney Adriana Vieco. 

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/webinars.php; email osccrt@usdoj.gov; or visit OSC’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc.   

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to: different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral, should contact the worker hotline above for assistance.

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Updated August 4, 2015