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Press Release

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Georgia Poultry Processing Company

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement with Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc., a poultry processing company in Gainesville, Georgia. The settlement resolves a long-standing lawsuit filed by the Justice Department alleging that Mar-Jac Poultry violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization.  

The Department filed its complaint on July 14, 2011, after investigating a charge that a worker filed.  The complaint alleged that from at least July 1, 2009 to at least January 27, 2011, Mar-Jac Poultry routinely required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present a document issued by the Department of Homeland Security, such as a Permanent Resident Card or Employment Authorization Document, to prove their work authorization, but did not require specific documents from U.S. citizens.  On March 3, 2017, the court found that Mar-Jac was liable for a  pattern or practice of this type of discrimination against non-U.S. citizens Respondent hired between June 16, 2010 and February 9, 2011, leaving monetary and other remedies for future resolution.  All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work. The INA’s antidiscrimination provision prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin. 

“Even an employer that hires many non-U.S. citizens can violate the INA if it treats employees differently based on citizenship status or national origin when verifying their identity and work authorization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “This case demonstrates the Department’s commitment to ensuring that all employers implement the employment eligibility verification process in a non-discriminatory manner.”

Under the settlement agreement, Mar-Jac will pay a civil penalty of $190,000; pay $1020 to a refugee the company fired when he did not produce a DHS-issued document to reverify his work authority; pay up to $23,980 in back pay to compensate other affected employees and applicants; train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.  

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) 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; and retaliation and intimidation

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; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.  Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

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 IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

Updated October 9, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-1309