Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Supermarket Chain
The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Mexico Foods LLC, aka El Rancho Corp., a supermarket chain based in Garland, Texas, resolving claims that the company engaged in discrimination during the employment eligibility verification process in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The department’s investigation was initiated based on a referral from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The investigation revealed that El Rancho required lawful permanent residents to present a new employment eligibility document after being hired when their Permanent Resident cards 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, even after their Permanent Resident cards expire. The investigation also uncovered evidence that El Rancho routinely requested a specific work authority document from lawful permanent residents during the initial employment eligibility verification process even though under the law employees are allowed to choose what documents to present. The department found that El Rancho’s discriminatory practices were based on employees’ citizenship status.
Under the settlement agreement, El Rancho must pay $43,000 in civil penalties, undergo training on the antidiscrimination provision of the INA and submit to monitoring for a period of 18 months, during which the department may review the company’s employment eligibility verification practices.
“The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that work-authorized immigrants do not face discrimination in employment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “We applaud El Rancho for cooperating with the department and taking immediate action to correct its employment eligibility verification practices.”
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee, document abuse and retaliation or intimidation . This matter was handled by OSC Trial Attorney Richard Crespo and OSC Equal Opportunity Specialist Joann Sazama. For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws or how to sign up for a free webinar, 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) or visit the OSC 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, should contact the worker hotline above for assistance.