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Press Release

Justice Department Settles with Insurance Agency to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with James A. Scott & Son Inc., an insurance agency doing business as Scott Insurance headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia. The settlement resolves the department’s claims that Scott Insurance discriminated on the basis of citizenship status against a non-U.S. citizen by requesting that he present a specific document to prove his permission to work and rejecting the valid document the worker showed. The department also found that Scott Insurance routinely discriminated against non-U.S. citizens by failing to consider and hire them due to their citizenship status.

“Employers cannot refuse to hire applicants based on their citizenship status except when they are authorized by law to do so,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against workers when verifying their permission to work. The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting workers from unlawful citizenship discrimination.”

The department’s investigation determined that Scott Insurance discriminated against a lawful permanent resident by asking him for his Permanent Resident Card to prove his permission to work and then rejecting the valid documentation he provided. The department further determined that from no later than June 1, 2017, and continuing until at least Aug. 1, 2020, Scott Insurance discriminated against non-U.S. citizens by failing to consider and hire them for positions based on their citizenship status.

The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) protects U.S. citizens, non-U.S. citizen nationals, refugees, asylees and recent lawful permanent residents from hiring discrimination based on their citizenship status. The law has an exception that allows employers or recruiters to limit jobs based on citizenship status if they are authorized to do so by a law, regulation, executive order or government contract. Employers are also prohibited from limiting or specifying the types of documentation a worker is allowed to show to prove permission to work, because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. Employers must allow workers to present whatever valid documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine.

Under the settlement, Scott Insurance will pay $9,500 in civil penalties to the United States, and up to $70,000 in back pay to affected workers. The settlement also requires Scott Insurance to train employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. 

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation

  Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. Find more information on how employers can avoid citizenship status discrimination on IER’s website. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also 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); email; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER. View the Spanish translation of this press release here.

Updated January 24, 2022

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 22-57