U.S. Department of Justice Announces New Settlement Agreements Resolving Allegations of Citizenship Status Discrimination
On January 30, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement agreement resolving allegations that the City of Waterloo, Iowa excluded a non-U.S. citizen from a firefighter position due to his citizenship status. The Department’s investigation revealed that the City improperly restricted firefighter positions to U.S. citizens, contrary to the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and despite the absence of any law, regulation, executive order or government contract authorizing such limits. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the City must permit the charging party – a work-authorized Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S. – to re-apply for the position and hire or otherwise compensate him if his performance on hiring tests confirms that he would have been hired but for the City’s discriminatory conduct. In addition, the City must pay $13,000 in civil penalties and amend its policies to prevent unlawful citizenship requirements during the hiring process. The City must also agree to training of city officials and submit to monitoring by the Department for a period of one year.
In addition, on January 23, 2014, the DOJ announced a settlement agreement with SD Staffing LLC, also known as Atwork Personnel Services, Inc., resolving allegations that the Massachusetts staffing company improperly required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present specific documents during the E-Verify employment eligibility verification process. According to the Department’s investigation, the company did not apply this requirement to similarly situated U.S. citizens. The Department’s inquiry into SD Staffing LLC’s employment eligibility verification practices was triggered by a referral from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency tasked with administering the E-Verify program. Under the settlement agreement, SD Staffing LLC must identify and provide back pay to employees who lost wages between September 2013 and January 2014 due to the company’s alleged citizenship status discrimination, pay $10,500 in civil penalties, undergo training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and submit to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for a period of two years.