Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Housing Authority in Texas
The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with the Housing Authority of Victoria, Texas (Housing Authority). The settlement resolves a complaint that the Housing Authority discriminated against a lawful permanent resident when it rejected his valid employment documents and fired him in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). While it is illegal under the INA for employers to knowingly hire individuals without work authorization, it is also illegal under that law for employers to discriminate against lawful permanent residents, among other work-authorized immigrants, in the hiring process.
“Employers should not reject valid employment documents because of a lawful permanent resident’s citizenship status,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working with the Housing Authority to ensure its compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
The Department’s investigation, which was initiated based upon the lawful permanent resident’s complaint, concluded that the Housing Authority improperly requested that the worker present more documents than necessary to prove his ability to work, thereby rejecting the identification and unrestricted Social Security card he already presented, based on his citizenship status. These actions constitute unfair documentary practices in violation of the INA.
The Department’s investigation also concluded that the Housing Authority improperly terminated the worker based on his citizenship status when he could not comply with its discriminatory document request. Under the INA, workers are allowed to choose from lists of acceptable documents to prove that they are authorized to work, and employers cannot reject valid documents or specify which documents the workers should present because of their citizenship. The INA also prohibits employers from firing U.S. citizens and those who are lawfully in the country and authorized to work based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.
Under the settlement, the Housing Authority will offer to rehire the injured worker, provide him back wages, pay civil penalties to the United States, train employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring requirements.
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 discrimination against individuals who are authorized to work based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.
More information on how employers can avoid unlawful discrimination when verifying that workers are eligible to work is available here. 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 IER@usdoj.gov; 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 discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.