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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 24, 2014

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Hearing Services Company

The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with Serendipity Hearing Inc., doing business as Sonus Hearing Care (Sonus), a hearing services provider headquartered in the Los Angeles, California, metropolitan area.  The agreement resolves a claim, filed with the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), that the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by engaging in discriminatory documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification process.    

The department’s investigation found that Sonus required the complainant, a lawful permanent resident it had hired, to produce a new employment eligibility document when her Permanent Resident Card expired, even though the Form I-9 and E-Verify rules prohibit this practice because lawful permanent residents have permanent work authorization in the United States after their Permanent Resident Cards expire.  When the complainant failed to present her new Permanent Resident Card, Sonus terminated her.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making additional and unauthorized documentary demands based on citizenship status or national origin when verifying or re-verifying an employee’s employment eligibility. 

“The Civil Rights Division is committed to identifying and tearing down discriminatory barriers that prevent work-authorized individuals from employment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Division commends Sonus for working to resolve this matter expeditiously.”

Under the settlement agreement, Sonus will pay $16,727 in back pay to the charging party and $400 in civil penalties to the United States, undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, revise its employment eligibility re-verification policies and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification 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.  This matter was handled by Trial Attorney Luz V. Lopez-Ortiz and Paralegal Specialist Ryan Thompson. 

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 status, immigration status, or national origin, or discrimination based on their citizenship status, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, should contact OSC’s worker hotline for assistance.

14-1178
Updated August 28, 2015