Justice Department Settles National Origin Discrimination Claim Against New York Restaurant

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced it has reached a settlement with Food Love 125 Inc., d/b/a Ichiba Ramen, a New York City restaurant, to resolve the Department’s investigation into whether the restaurant violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision.

A worker’s complaint initiated the Justice Department’s investigation, which revealed that Ichiba Ramen’s former chef discriminated against a job applicant when it refused to hire him as a server because he is not Korean or Japanese. The investigation also revealed that prior chefs had not placed such limitations on the restaurant’s hiring of servers. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers with four to 14 employees from discriminating against individuals because of their national origin.

Under the settlement agreement, Ichiba Ramen will pay a civil penalty, undergo training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA. The restaurant also paid $1,760 in back pay to compensate the affected applicant.

“Today’s settlement should serve as a reminder to small employers that hiring discrimination based on national origin violates the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and the Justice Department is committed to holding employers accountable for such violations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division.

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 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. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits national origin discrimination by employers that employ 15 or more workers.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, 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); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to retaliation; 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 for a fee, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.