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Friday, June 19, 2015

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Memphis Staffing Companies

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement agreement with three Memphis-area staffing agencies: Prestigious Placement; PFSWeb Inc.; and its subsidiary, Priority Fulfillment Services Inc.  The agreement resolves two complaints alleging discrimination under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Justice Department’s investigation found that the companies refused to hire two qualified, Puerto Rican-born individuals because the companies believed that they were born in a foreign country.  The companies rejected the workers’ valid Puerto Rican birth certificates and demanded that the workers present naturalization certificates, even though Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth.  Under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, employers cannot discriminate in hiring or place additional documentary burdens on workers during the employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship or perceived citizenship.                               

Under the settlement agreement, the companies will compensate the charging parties for lost wages; pay civil penalties to the United States; undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; revise their employment policies and training materials; and be subject to monitoring of their employment eligibility verification practices for two years.

“Puerto Ricans are native-born U.S. citizens who have the same right to work as any other U.S. citizen,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “They should not have to face these types of discriminatory barriers, and the Justice Department is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunities.”         

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment 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. 

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, 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 the worker hotline above for assistance.

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Updated August 4, 2015