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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against McDonald’s

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with McDonald’s USA LLC and its corporate affiliates and subsidiaries (McDonald’s) resolving allegations that McDonald’s discriminated against immigrant employees of McDonald’s-owned restaurants.

The department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) opened its investigation based on information received on its worker hotline.  The investigation found that McDonald’s had a longstanding practice of requiring lawful permanent residents to show a new permanent resident card when their original document expired, even though the law prohibits this practice.  The investigation further found that the company did not make the equivalent request to its U.S. citizen employees who showed documents that later expired, and that those lawful permanent residents who were asked and could not provide a new card were not allowed to work, some even losing their jobs as a result.  This investigation and today’s settlement agreement only address actions by McDonald’s, not its franchises.

“Employers cannot hold lawful permanent residents to a higher standard by placing additional documentary burdens upon them during the employment eligibility verification process,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “Requiring unnecessary documentation of individuals based on their citizenship or immigration status is discriminatory, and the Department of Justice will not hesitate to enforce the law and protect the rights of work-authorized immigrants.  We commend McDonald’s for its cooperation throughout this investigation and for committing to compensate its current and former employees who lost wages due to these practices.”

Lawful permanent residents have authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.  As proof of that status, a lawful permanent resident receives a permanent resident card, commonly called a “Green Card,” but lawful permanent residents are eligible for multiple documents that show their eligibility to work.  Lawful permanent residents do not have to show their permanent resident cards when they start working.  Like all workers, they can choose whatever valid documentation they want to establish their employment authorization.  While most permanent resident cards contain an expiration date, as a general matter, card holders have permanent work authorization so the expiration of the card does not mean they lose their right to work or their status.  Lawful permanent residents who decide to show an unexpired permanent resident card are not required to present any additional documentation when their card expires, and employers cannot request additional documents from them.  Moreover, the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship or immigration status.

Under the settlement agreement, McDonald’s will pay $355,000 in civil penalties to the United States, undergo monitoring for 20 months and train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.

The settlement agreement also requires McDonald’s to compensate lawful permanent resident employees of McDonald’s-owned restaurants who lost work or lost their jobs due to these documentary practices.  Lawful permanent residents who worked for a corporate-owned McDonald’s location (not a franchise) between Sept. 23, 2012, and March 1, 2015, may be eligible for compensation if they were fired or forced to miss work because they could not show a new card when their permanent resident card was set to expire.  More information on the process for obtaining back wages is found in the settlement agreement’s claims procedure http://www.justice.gov/crt/united-states-department-justice-settlement-mcdonald-s-usa-llc.   

Current and former McDonald’s employees with questions about this matter may call 1-844-401-3737 or email OSC.McDonalds@usdoj.gov.     

OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  Among other things, this law prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process; retaliation; and intimidation.  Trial Attorneys Jennifer Deines and Silvia Dominguez-Reese and Equal Opportunity Specialist Joann Sazama of the Civil Rights Division worked on this case.

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.   

McDonald's Settlement Agreement

15-1434
Updated November 19, 2015