Last week, the Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with Pizzerias, LLC (Pizzerias), a pizza restaurant franchisee with 31 locations in Miami, Florida. The agreement resolves the department’s investigation into whether Pizzerias violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when checking their work authorization documents.
The department’s investigation concluded that Pizzerias routinely requested that lawful permanent residents produce a specific document – a Permanent Resident Card – to prove their work authorization, while not requesting a specific document from U.S. citizens. Lawful permanent residents often have the same work authorization documents available to them as U.S. citizens, and may choose acceptable documents other than a Permanent Resident Card to prove they are authorized to work. The antidiscrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin.
Under the settlement, Pizzerias must pay a civil penalty of $140,000 to the United States, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, train their human resources personnel, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.
“The Justice Department is committed to ensuring the rights of lawful U.S. workers to be free from discriminatory barriers based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “Pizzerias’ responsiveness throughout the course of the investigation assisted in a speedy resolution of this matter.”
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. 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.