The Obama Administration has secured a settlement with Nebraska Beef Ltd., a Nebraska-based meat packing company, over discriminatory practices. However, the company’s improper actions involved a requirement for employees to show proof of legal status for employment. The company was targeted because it did not also require proof of legal status from U.S. citizens.
Nebraska Beef agreed to pay $200,000 in a civil penalty and will establish an uncapped back pay fund for people who lost wages because they could not prove they are in the country legally. It also agreed to be placed under compliance monitoring for two years.
Here is the statement of the Justice Department:
The department’s investigation found that the company required non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documentary proof of their immigration status to verify their employment eligibility. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin when verifying an employee’s authorization to work.
“The department is committed to ensuring that individuals who are authorized to work in the United States can support their families and contribute to our country’s economic growth without facing unnecessary and discriminatory barriers to employment,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “We will vigorously enforce the law to remove such barriers where we find them, and ensure that affected individuals have a means of seeking relief.”
The Administration interprets the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as prohibiting employers from making documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin when verifying an employee’s authorization to work. That constitutes discrimination. However the company appears to have viewed the proof of legal status as necessarily relevant only to non-citizens since, if it knew an employee was a citizen, there was no need to demand documents. Yet, it is not clear how it “knew” the citizenship of employees. It is also unclear why the company did not ask all employees were told to simply bring in either proof of citizenship or legal status (or if it did, why that was not equal treatment).
What do you think?