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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination and Retaliation Claims Against Rhode Island Manufacturing Company

The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with ChemArt, a Rhode Island-based manufacturer of ornaments and custom-designed collectibles.

The settlement resolves claims that ChemArt discriminated against a U.S. citizen worker because of her perceived citizenship status and then retaliated against the worker when she objected to the practice in violation of the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

“Employers must be careful not to make requests for more or different work authorization documents than specified by law because of a worker’s actual or perceived citizenship status and should not retaliate against workers for asserting their rights,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We appreciate ChemArt’s cooperation during the investigation and look forward to working with the company to ensure compliance with the antidiscrimination provision of the INA.”

The department began its investigation of ChemArt after the affected worker filed a discrimination complaint. The department’s investigation concluded that after ChemArt offered the worker a human resources staff position, the company unlawfully requested that the worker provide a specific immigration document for employment eligibility verification purposes based on her perceived citizenship status. Soon after she objected to the document request as discriminatory, ChemArt rescinded the worker’s job offer, according to the department. 

Under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, all workers must be permitted to choose from among the valid work authorization documents to prove their employment eligibility regardless of their citizenship status. The INA’s antidiscrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting specific work authorization documents because of an individual’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. The statute also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers because they opposed unlawful employer conduct or conduct that they reasonably believed was unlawful discrimination.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ChemArt will pay a civil penalty of $3,000 for the violations, provide back pay to the charging party, review its application and onboarding materials to ensure compliance with the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, train its staff regarding the employment eligibility verification process, and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.

IER is responsible for enforcing the antidiscrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; 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 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.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
20-509
Updated June 12, 2020