The Department of Justice today announced that it reached a settlement agreement with WesPak Inc., an agricultural company located in Dinuba, California. The settlement resolves the Department of Justice’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against workers based on their citizenship status in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when verifying their authorization to work.
The investigation concluded that WesPak discriminated against lawful permanent resident workers by unnecessarily requiring them to re-prove their work authorization when their original documents expired, even though the workers’ original documents — such as Permanent Resident Cards — demonstrated that they were permanently authorized to work in the United States. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from making unnecessary requests for documentation to prove work authorization based on a worker’s citizenship status or national origin.
Under the settlement, WesPak will pay a civil penalty to the United States, train its human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to compliance monitoring by the Department of Justice.
“Employers must carefully examine their procedures for reverifying continuing work authorization to ensure that they protect workers against discrimination based on citizenship status, and we are pleased with WesPak’s agreement to do so,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.
The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits discrimination against individuals who are authorized to work based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.
Employers can find information on how to avoid unlawful discrimination based on citizenship status or national origin here. Workers can find information about their rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA here. For more information about protections against employment discrimination under the INA, 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. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.