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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Miami-Dade County Public Schools

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with Miami Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) resolving claims that MDCPS discriminated against employees because of their citizenship status in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

The department’s investigation, conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), found that MDCPS required non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documents to prove their employment eligibility.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making specific documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin when verifying an employee’s authorization to work.

“Employers must ensure that their human resources staff understand proper hiring practices,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “Promoting compliance is especially important to ensure that workers are not excluded due to discriminatory treatment.”  

Under the settlement agreement, MDCPS will pay a $90,000 civil penalty to the United States and will establish a $125,000 back pay fund to compensate individuals who lost wages because of the MDCPS’ practices.  Among other things, the settlement also requires MDCPS to undergo compliance monitoring for three years, permit OSC to train MDCPS students on worker rights, and train its human resources employees on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. 

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.  Trial Attorney Liza Zamd of the Civil Rights Division handled this matter.

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 for a fee should contact OSC’s worker hotline for assistance.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Settlement Agreement

Updated October 22, 2015