Farm Labor Contractor to Pay $320,000 in Civil Penalties for Discrimination Based on Citizenship Status in Violation of the INA

 
Thursday, June 11, 2015
 

The Justice Department reached an agreement with Luis Esparza Services, Inc. (LES), a farm labor contractor company based in Bakersfield, California, resolving claims that the company discriminated against individuals because of citizenship status in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  This agreement contains the largest civil penalty the Justice Department has ever secured to resolve a discrimination claim under the INA.

The Justice Department’s investigation found that LES required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to produce documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security as a condition of employment, but did not require the same of U.S. citizen workers.  The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on workers during the employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status.

Under the settlement agreement, LES will pay $320,000 in civil penalties; compensate a worker who lost wages due to LES’s employment eligibility verification practices; undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; revise its employment eligibility verification policies; and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for three years.

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.  

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