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Press Release

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination Claim Against Major Airline

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with United Continental Holdings Inc. resolving a claim that divisions of the company previously operating as Continental Airlines discriminated against individuals because of citizenship status in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).   

The department’s investigation was initiated based on a telephone call to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices’s (OSC) hotline.  The department found that the company requested lawful permanent resident employees, but not U.S. citizen employees, to complete additional Forms I-9 and provide additional proof of employment eligibility after hire even though the law prohibits this practice.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status. 

“The INA’s anti-discrimination provision protects individuals from being singled out for unnecessary and unauthorized employment reverification based on their citizenship or immigration status,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division.  “We commend Continental’s willingness to resolve the issues uncovered during the department’s investigation.”

Under the settlement agreement, Continental will pay $215,000 to the United States, create a $55,000 back pay fund to compensate individuals who may have lost wages due to the company’s practices, and undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The company will also be subject to departmental monitoring of its employment eligibility reverification practices for a period of two years.    

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices within the Justice Department 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 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, email; or visit OSC’s website at   

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

Updated June 9, 2023

Press Release Number: 14-1014