Seattle, Washington - The Justice Department reached an agreement today with SK Food Group Inc., a company based in Seattle, resolving claims that the company used discriminatory document practices when verifying the work authority of non-citizens.
The department’s investigation, which was initiated based on a referral from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), found that SK Food required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to produce specific Department of Homeland Security documents to prove their work authority in connection with the company’s employment eligibility verification process, but did not make similar demands of U.S. citizens. Such discriminatory practices are prohibited under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Under the agreement, SK Food must pay $40,500 in civil penalties to the United States; identify and provide back pay to any individuals who suffered lost wages as a result of the company’s alleged discriminatory documentary practices; undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for one year.
“Employers cannot create discriminatory obstacles for work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in the employment eligibility verification process,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “In this case, we commend the company for its full cooperation during the investigation and for its efforts to address and resolve the deficiencies in its employment eligibility verification process.”
“No one who is legally authorized to work in the United States should be denied that opportunity based on suspicion or stereotypes,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan for the Western District of Washington. “The agreement filed today ensures training for human resource workers and outreach to employees to promote and safeguard equal treatment for all new workers.”
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. This case was handled by OSC Trial Attorney Luz V. Lopez-Ortiz.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to different documentary requirements based on their citizenship status, immigration status or national origin or discrimination based on their citizenship status, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral should contact the worker hotline above for assistance.