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Department of Justice
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims Against AtWork Cumberland Staffing

The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Cumberland Staffing Inc., doing business as AtWork Cumberland Staffing (ACS), to resolve the department’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against work-authorized immigrants and naturalized U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  ACS is a temporary staffing agency with an office located in Cookeville, Tennessee.

The department initiated its investigation after a Tennessee resident notified the department of an ACS job posting that included a U.S. birth certificate requirement.  The department’s investigation found that between December 2015 and February 2016, ACS’s Cookeville office created and published a job posting stating that applicants for machine operator positions at a client company must present a U.S. birth certificate, even though there was no legal authorization for such requirement.  The discriminatory posting was published on several job search engine websites during this time period.

The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee based on a person’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin.  In the absence of a legal basis to do so (such as a law, regulation or government contract that requires U.S. citizenship restrictions), employers, recruiters and referrers for a fee may not limit job opportunities or otherwise impose barriers to obtaining employment based on an individual’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin.  By requiring a U.S. birth certificate – a document that only non-naturalized U.S. citizens possess – to be considered for an employment opportunity, ACS’s job posting created a discriminatory barrier for work-authorized individuals, such as naturalized U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees. 

Under the settlement agreement, ACS will pay a civil penalty, remove all specific document requirements from its job postings except where required by law, train staff on proper employment verification and reverification procedures and ensure that trained staff or legal counsel review future job advertisements.

“Staffing agencies, which are in the business of making employment opportunities available to job seekers, cannot create unlawful and discriminatory employment barriers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “The department commends ACS for its cooperation during the investigation and its willingness to address the situation.” 

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, immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices in employment eligibility verification; retaliation; and intimidation.

To learn more about the 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 have been 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 OSC’s worker hotline for assistance.

AtWork Settlement Agreement

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
Updated September 7, 2016