The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Temple Beth El, a synagogue in Boca Raton, Florida, that employs teachers and other staff. The settlement resolves the department’s claim that the synagogue, in staffing its pre-school, discriminated against a non-U.S. citizen based on citizenship status when checking the individual’s permission to work in the United States.
“Employers cannot discriminate against workers by asking them for specific documents to prove their permission to work based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Employers must allow all employees, regardless of their citizenship status, to provide any valid, acceptable document of their choice to prove their permission to work. We look forward to working with Temple Beth El to implement this settlement and ensure its staff understand the correct process to use to avoid potential discrimination.”
The department initiated the investigation to determine whether the company was violating the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision after receiving information from a member of the public. The department’s investigation revealed that the company discriminated on two separate occasions by asking a lawful permanent resident to present specific documents to prove their permission to work in the United States, while making no such request of U.S. citizens. All employees have the right to choose the valid documentation they wish to present when demonstrating that they have permission to work in the United States.
The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for unnecessary documents — or specifying the type of documentation a worker should present — to prove their permission to work, because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin.
Under the settlement, Temple Beth El will pay $4,144 in civil penalties, change their employment policies to comply with the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, and train its employees who are responsible for verifying workers’ permission to work in the United States.
The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.
Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. IER’s website has more information on how employers can avoid discriminating when verifying a worker’s permission to work through the Form I-9 or E-Verify. 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 can also 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); email IER@usdoj.gov; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER. View the Spanish translation of this press release here.