Picture credit - WTHR

The Department of Justice announced that it has received a court order yesterday awarding the United States $857,868 in civil penalties, along with other relief, in the Department’s immigration-related employment discrimination lawsuit against Louisiana-based Technical Marine Maintenance Texas LLC (TMMTX), which provides contract shipyard labor, and Gulf Coast Workforce LLC (GCW), a related company.  The court previously found that the companies violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against workers based on their citizenship status during the employment eligibility verification process.

The court’s Dec. 10 order follows its June 28 ruling that from at least January 2014 until at least July 2017, TMMTX limited the types of documentation different groups of workers could provide to establish their work authorization based on the workers’ citizenship status.  The United States’ complaint against the company, filed in July 2017, alleged that the company asked U.S. citizens to produce “IDs” and Social Security cards, while requesting immigration documents from non-U.S. citizens.  After the companies refused to comply with court procedures and orders during the litigation, the court sanctioned the companies and held both companies liable for discriminatory documentary practices. The INA prohibits employers from limiting workers’ choice of documentation to present for employment verification based on the workers’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

The Dec. 10 order resolves outstanding issues about the penalties and remedies to be awarded to the United States.  In adopting the Department’s penalty recommendation, the court considered TMMTX’s and GCW’s misconduct during the litigation and the companies’ ongoing failure to submit any evidence to the court.  In addition to the $857,868 civil penalty for which TMMTX and GCW are jointly and severally liable, the court’s order yesterday granted the Department’s request that the companies train their staff on the INA and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.

“The Civil Rights Division works tirelessly to enforce laws that protect U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens from discriminatory conduct in the workplace,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.  “Today’s decision reminds employers that they must take seriously their obligations to avoid citizenship status-based discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process.”

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) 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 practicesretaliation and intimidation.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, 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); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to retaliation; different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

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