Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Texas Fast Food Franchisee
The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with R.E.E. Inc., which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. The settlement resolves a claim that the restaurants R.E.E. operated violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization.
“Employers should not impose discriminatory restrictions on the choice of valid, legally acceptable documents workers can present to prove they are authorized to work,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that R.E.E. will work with the Division to ensure that, in the future, it doesn’t impose unlawful discriminatory barriers on workers during the employment eligibility verification process.”
The Department’s investigation concluded that from at least Oct. 14, 2015, to at least Dec. 31, 2017, R.E.E. required non-U.S. citizens to provide specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove their work authorization because of their citizenship or immigration status, even though some had already presented other valid proof of their authorization to work. The Department also concluded that R.E.E. improperly rejected valid documents some non-U.S. citizens tried to present to prove their work authorization, such as their state IDs and unrestricted Social Security cards. All work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, have the right to choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States.
Under the settlement, R.E.E. will pay $82,800 in civil penalties to the United States, pay $8,746.43 in back pay to a worker who lost work as a result of R.E.E.’s hiring practices, and be subject to departmental monitoring, training, and reporting requirements.
The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) 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.
More information on how employers can avoid unlawful discrimination is available here. Workers can find information about their rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA here. 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 discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.