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Press Release

Justice Department Settles Retaliation Claim Against Florida Electrician Company

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department today announced that it reached a settlement agreement with Service Minds Inc., dba Mister Sparky (Service Minds), a company that provides contract electrical services to residential customers in Florida and Alabama. The settlement resolves a claim that the company retaliated against a work-authorized job applicant, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when he and his wife challenged a U.S. citizens-only hiring rule that a recruiter had wrongly claimed was the company’s policy.

“Employers should not retaliate against workers for speaking up when they are told they cannot get a job because they are not a U.S. citizen,” said Gregory B. Friel, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “We are grateful that the applicant and his wife objected to what would have been an unlawful practice when they learned about it.”

The department initiated its investigation after a woman filed a charge on behalf of her husband, an electrician in Ocala, Florida, who applied for a job with Service Minds. The investigation determined that although the applicant was qualified for the position, a company recruiter incorrectly told him that the company could only hire U.S. citizens. The applicant and his wife sent the recruiter information about the INA’s prohibition against citizenship status discrimination and objected to the company’s policy. The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) found evidence that, based on the electrician’s qualifications and the company’s past hiring practices, the company would have hired him if he and his wife had not raised an objection. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision generally prohibits employers from retaliating against individuals because they object to conduct that is illegal under the provision, or for exercising other rights protected under that provision.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Service Minds will, among other things, give the former employee front pay and back pay (including benefits) plus interest, totaling over $24,500; pay a civil penalty; train its workers; and be subject to departmental monitoring.

IER is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation. Learn more about citizenship status discrimination under the INA here.

Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. 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 also may contact IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688; 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.

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Updated June 9, 2023

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 21-129