The Justice Department has ordered McDonald’s USA LLC (including its corporate affiliates and subsidiaries) to pay $355,000 in civil penalties to the United States, after the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) opened a case against it citing unlawful discrimination against legal immigrant employees.
The case was brought after OSC received information on the company from its worker hotline, and the subsequent investigation revealed longstanding practices by McDonald’s requiring lawful permanent residents to show a new permanent resident card whenever the original document expired – a practice prohibited by the anti-discrimination provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The provision states that no individual during or after the hiring process is allowed to be discriminated against because of their national origin or any protected status they may hold.
Permanent resident cards – often called “green cards” – are issued to those immigrants who have authorization to permanently live and work in the United States. Permanent resident cards usually feature an expiration date, but most permanent residents, as the name suggests, have permanent rights to work in the country and the expiration of their card doesn’t mean they lose the right to work or live in the US. Under the INA, if employees present an “expired” permanent resident card, they are not allowed to ask for additional documentation to verify that employee’s status – including when they’re initially hired.
The investigation also discovered that McDonald’s didn’t make similar requests of its US-born employees when any of their documentation expired, and those lawful permanent residents who couldn’t produce a new permanent resident card were often prevented from being able to work or were outright fired because of it.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who is the head of the Civil Rights Division, said of the matter, “Employers cannot hold lawful permanent residents to a higher standard by placing additional documentary burdens upon them during the employment eligibility verification process,” and she further commented that the Justice Department commends McDonald’s “for its cooperation throughout this investigation and for committing to compensate its current and former employees who lost wages due to these practices.”
As well as the $355,000 in civil penalties, McDonald’s has been placed under monitoring and will be required to educate its employees on the anti-discrimination portion of the INA. On top of that, it must compensate those lawful permanent resident employees who lost work or lost their jobs due to the company’s discriminatory practices.
If you would like legal consultation in regard to workplace discrimination because of your national origin or citizenship status, or if you would like more information on the INA, please get in touch with Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm. You can send an enquiry through the website or by calling 512-215-5225.