The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Walmart Inc. The agreement resolves claims that a Walmart store in Fort Worth, Texas, violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by unlawfully requesting specific work authorization documents from non-U.S. citizens based on their citizenship status.
The Department initiated an investigation after a lawful permanent resident filed a charge alleging that Walmart fired her on her first day of work because she could not fulfill a human resources employee’s request for a document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even though she had already provided other documents sufficient to establish her work authorization. When the worker protested her firing, a regional supervisor and hiring staff member at another nearby store incorrectly reaffirmed the unnecessary request for a DHS-issued document. IER’s subsequent investigation concluded that the human resources employee had a practice of requesting unnecessary DHS documents from non-U.S. citizens to establish their work authorization because of their citizenship status. The INA prohibits employers from (a) rejecting valid work authorization documents, (b) limiting workers’ choice of documentation to present for employment verification, and (c) subjecting workers to different or unnecessary documentary demands, based on the workers’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.
After the Department initiated its investigation, Walmart provided $1,944 in back pay to the worker and reinstated her employment. Under the terms of the settlement, Walmart will pay a civil penalty to the United States, train staff in Fort Worth-area stores, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.
“Employers should not ask employees for unnecessary work-authorization documents because of their citizenship or immigration status,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “We are pleased that Walmart has agreed to work with the Department and to provide additional training to relevant employees.”
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; and retaliation and intimidation.
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 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.