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Friday, April 20, 2018

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Texas Company

The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement with Themesoft Inc. (Themesoft), a Texas-based company that provides consulting and staffing services to technology clients, to resolve the Department’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against a work-authorized immigrant by refusing to refer him for an assignment, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

The Department’s investigation, initiated based on a worker’s complaint, revealed that Themesoft engaged in citizenship status discrimination against an asylee by refusing to refer his application to a client because he was not a lawful permanent resident, U.S. citizen, or H-1B visa holder. Asylees have permanent work authorization, like U.S. citizens, nationals, refugees, and lawful permanent residents, so employers may not limit their jobs based on citizenship status without a specific legal basis for doing so.  The investigation also revealed that Themesoft requested specific immigration documentation from the worker because of his citizenship or immigration status even though the INA’s anti-discrimination provision also prohibits employers from requiring applicants or employees to produce more or specific documents than are required by law, based on the individual’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. 

Under the settlement agreement, Themesoft will pay civil penalties for the citizenship status discrimination and the unfair documentary practices.  Themesoft will also post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, train its staff, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.  During the Department’s investigation, Themesoft agreed to pay the worker back pay and offered him a job. The Department’s agreement requires Themesoft to timely pay the worker the remainder of the $12,000 in back pay it still owes him.

“The Department vigorously protects all workers from citizenship status discrimination when employers have no legal basis for their actions,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “This settlement also serves as a reminder that the INA’s anti-discrimination provision extends to companies that refer workers to third party clients, and that all employers should be mindful of their compliance obligations.”

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, 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 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.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to retaliation; 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 IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

Updated April 20, 2018