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Restaurant In Hot Water After Immigration Spat

justice.gifKim Hoang Coffee and Fast Food, a San Francisco-based restaurant, was recently accused by a former employee of violating certain terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it rejected the employee’s work authorization documents. The immigrant worker, who was authorized to work in the United States and possessed the proper documentation to prove it, had been given the impression that she had been fired by the restaurant when management unjustly rejected her authorization renewal documents. The case was brought before the Department of Justice which determined that the allegations were valid and found Kim Hoang Coffee and Fast Food in direct contravention of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. According to the DOJ’s investigation into the incident, the employer was also asking for different work authorization documentation from U.S. and non-U.S. citizens which is prohibited by the INA provision. The employment eligibility verification process is indeed different for citizens and non-citizens but the documentation is the same regardless of citizenship. An immigration and family law firm specializing in these types of cases helped to present the case to the Department of Justice and ultimately win the case for the employee.

The restaurant responded to the Justice Department investigation by offering to rehire the employee as well as paying the month’s worth of wages she lost during the investigation. The agreement dictates that the restaurant is obligated to pay civil penalties to the federal government in the amount of $485 and that the owners and management personnel of the restaurant are required to attend DOJ training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. Additionally, the restaurant must have its employment eligibility verification procedures monitored by the INA for three years. Restaurant owners have also agreed to post a federal “Right to Work” poster on their premises. The poster, developed by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, displays the INA anti-discrimination provision in clear understandable language.

The Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has stated that requiring different documentation for prospective employees based on their citizenship status is a clear violation of the INA’s employment verification process requirements. The Assistant A.G. also iterated the Department of Justice’s commitment to enforcing fair employment practices for businesses throughout the United States. Although there have been several discrimination lawsuits filed in any number of states that are similar to this one, this particular case has generated a bit more attention due to the fact that the restaurant in question is believed to have been involved in similar practices in the past but has never been brought up on charges or had a complaint filed.

There was no complaint filed in this case either as the allegations were settled before the Department of Justice could file a formal complaint. It does, however, constitute something of a warning to San Francisco-area companies who may be engaged in similar employment verification practices. If you or someone you know is or has been the victim of employment discrimination, please visit the Austin immigration law firm Lyttle Law Firm, at their website or call their offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.