The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with the Giant Company LLC d/b/a Giant Food (Giant), a Pennsylvania-based grocery store chain with locations in various states. The settlement resolves the department’s determination that Giant discriminated against non-U.S. citizen workers when checking their permission to work in the United States, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
“Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their citizenship, immigration status or national origin when verifying their permission to work,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to ensure that workers do not face unlawful discrimination when proving their permission to work in the United States.”
The department’s investigation began after a non-U.S. citizen complained that Giant refused to accept valid documentation proving her permission to work and demanded a different document from her. The department’s investigation determined that Giant routinely required specific documents from newly-hired non-U.S. citizens to prove they had permission to work in the United States. Specifically, the department found that Giant required lawful permanent residents to show their permanent resident cards (sometimes known as “green cards”) to prove their permission to work, even when they had presented other valid documentation. The investigation also revealed that Giant refused to allow the worker who complained to begin working because she did not present a green card as demanded. At the same time, Giant allowed U.S. citizens to choose from among various acceptable document types.
Under the terms of the settlement, Giant will pay a civil penalty to the United States, train staff on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, review and revise their employment policies and be subject to departmental monitoring for a three-year period. After the department’s investigation began, Giant provided the worker who complained with the pay she missed due to the alleged discrimination.
Federal law allows workers to choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to demonstrate their identity and permission to work, regardless of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for specific documents because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. Indeed, many non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, are eligible for several of the same types of documents to prove their permission to work as U.S. citizens (such as driver’s licenses and unrestricted social security cards). Employers should allow workers to present whatever acceptable documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine.
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. Find more information on how employers can avoid discrimination when verifying permission to work on IER’s website. 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.