On Monday, the federal Department of Justice announced a settlement it has reached with Rose Acre Farms Inc. (Rose Acre), a major egg producer which is based in Indiana. The agreement resolves a lawsuit of nearly six years in which DOJ alleged that Rose Acre violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by requiring work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present a Permanent Resident Card (‘green card”) when verifying their work authorization.
DOJ filed an amended complaint in 2012, which alleged that from at least June 2009 to Dec. 22, 2011, Rose Acre routinely required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present a Permanent Resident Card or Employment Authorization Document to prove their work authorization, but did not require specific documents from American citizens. All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work. The antidiscrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship or national origin.
“The INA makes clear that that when employers verify the identity and work authorization of employees, they must not treat employees differently based on their citizenship or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “This case demonstrates the Department’s commitment to ensuring that employers implement the employment eligibility verification process in a manner that is non-discriminatory.”
Under the settlement, Rose Acre will pay a civil penalty of $70,000. In addition, Rose Acre employees will be required to attend INA re-education training on anti-discrimination provisions and submit to INA monitoring for two years.
The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, is responsible for enforcing the antidiscrimination 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; retaliation and intimidation.