Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Florida Pizza Delivery Chain

March 30, 2017

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.

Full article available at: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-immigration-related-discrimination-claim-against-florida-pizza

Kasco to Pay $110,000 to Settle EEOC Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

March 30, 2017

KASCO, LLC, a St. Louis company which manufactures and sells butcher supplies and meat processing equipment, has agreed to pay $110,000 and furnish other relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency recently announced. The EEOC had charged KASCO with discrimination based on national origin and religion, as well as unlawful retaliation.

The EEOC filed suit against the company in August 2016, charging that KASCO had violated federal law by discriminating against an employee, Latifa Sidiqi, because of her adherence to Islam and her Afghan descent, and then firing her for complaining about it.  When Sidiqi was written up for a job performance issue – an admonition she thought unjustified — during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, she submitted a written rebuttal to human resources, pursuant to company policy. In that rebuttal, she wrote that the write-up had “everything to do with [her] coming from a Muslim background.” Within three weeks of this rebuttal, Sidiqi was terminated for allegedly “falsifying time records.” Sidiqi claimed, and the EEOC agreed, that this “time record” issue was pretextual, since other employees used “flex time” in the same manner Sidiqi did, but only she was fired for it.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, as well as forbids retaliation against applicants or employees who complain about such discrimination. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. KASCO, LLC, Civil Action No. 4:16-cv-1333), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $110,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree signed by Judge Rodney W. Sippel enjoins KASCO from violating Title VII in the future. KASCO also agreed to revise its anti-discrimination policies, and to provide annual anti-discrimination training to supervisory or management-level employees. The company will also report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.

Full article available at: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-22-17.cfm

Magnolia Health Corporation to Pay $325,000 To Settle EEOC Class Disability Discrimination Case

March 16, 2017

Magnolia Health Corporation, a Visalia, Calif.-based company that operates health care and assisted living facilities throughout California’s Central Valley, will pay $325,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency recently announced.

EEOC filed suit against the company in September 2015, charging that since 2012, Magnolia had discriminated against a class of applicants and employees on the basis of their disability, having a record of a disability, or being perceived as having one. EEOC said that Magnolia denied employees accommodations for their disabilities, and refused to hire, or fired, applicants and employees who had disabilities or were regarded as such. EEOC also said that Magnolia rescinded employment offers when applicants’ post-offer medical examinations indicated that they had a record of a disability or had current medical restrictions.  EEOC further charged that Magnolia required employees be completely free of medical restrictions to work.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Magnolia Health Corporation, et al., Case No. 1:15-cv-01222-DAD-EPG), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, Magnolia agreed to retain an ADA and equal employment opportunity consultant to revise the company’s policies and procedures with respect to disability discrimination, provide discrimination training to the company’s workforce with a focus on disability discrimination, and maintain a centralized system to track all accommodation requests and complaints. EEOC will monitor compliance with a two-year consent decree.

Full article available at: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-8-17.cfm

Study Finds 66 Percent of 100 Largest Federal Government Contractors Have Violated Wage-Hour Laws

March 16, 2017

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has released a report detailing repeated labor law violations by companies that receive billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded federal contracts. The cited violations include stealing wages and endangering workers, sometimes resulting in injuries or deaths. Nearly a quarter of the American workforce is employed at a company that holds at least one federal contract, Warren said in a press release.

Sponsored by Warren, the report shows that 66 of the federal government’s 100 largest contractors have been caught breaking federal wage and hour laws.  More than a third of the 100 largest penalties levied by OSHA since 2015 were issued to companies that held federal contracts.

More than 300,000 workers have been the victims of wage-related labor violations while working under federal contracts in the last decade, according to the report. These individuals work for nearly 12,000 different companies that receive federal contracts. The companies that have been caught have been forced to pay the workers they have cheated more than half a billion dollars in back wages, Warren’s press release notes.

The report also found that 692 companies have been caught violating wage-related contractor labor laws multiple times—with some cases affecting several thousand workers. Many of these repeat offenders continued to receive millions of dollars in contracts funded by taxpayer dollars. Abuses by contractors also included violations of safety and health standards that were willful and repeated, causing a wide range of physical harm to workers. Dozens of workers have died, and even more have been exposed to chemicals likely to cause lifelong health problems because the contractors they worked for took shortcuts on health and safety standards.

Full article available at: https://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/2017-3-6_Warren_Contractor_Report.pdf

President Signs Executive Order Enforcing Regulatory Reform Agenda

March 6, 2017

President Trump recently signed an executive order that directs federal agencies to establish a regulatory reform task force to assess whether regulations are burdensome to the economy and job creation.  “Excessive regulation is killing jobs, driving companies out of our country like never before,” Trump said at the White House before signing the directive. “Every regulation should have to pass a simple test; does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers,” he added.

Trump signed an executive order in January also addressing regulations, which requires a two-for-one swap for every new regulation issued. While signing that order, he said that the directive was targeted to help both small and large businesses.

Full article available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/24/presidential-executive-order-enforcing-regulatory-reform-agenda