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Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Miami-Dade Public Schools

crayonsOn October 22, the Justice Department concluded a case involving the discrimination of potential immigrant employees by Miami Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS), which was in violation of the anti-discrimination provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The INA states that:

“It is an unfair immigration-related employment practice for a person or other entity to discriminate against any individual (other than an unauthorized alien, as defined in section 1324a(h)(3) of [Title 8]) with respect to the hiring, or recruitment or referral for a fee, of the individual for employment or the discharging of the individual from employment—

(A) because of such individual’s national origin, or

(B) in the case of a protected individual (as defined in paragraph (3)), because of such individual’s citizenship status.”

The only exceptions to this rule are if the company hiring has less than three employees, if the discrimination is covered under the Civil Rights Act, or if the position involves the approval of the Attorney General.

After the Justice Department’s investigation, which was conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), it found that MDCPS required non-US citizens to present specific documents to prove their employment eligibility, something US citizens with similar qualifications were not required to do. This is considered a violation of the INA, as employers are prohibited from asking for specific documents to prove any potential employee’s citizenship status under the anti-discrimination provision.

Under the settlement agreement, MDCPS must pay a $90,000 civil penalty to the United States and must also establish a $125,000 back pay fund to compensate those individuals who lost wages because of the schools’ practices. The settlement also requires MDCPS to undergo compliance monitoring for three years, as well as permitting OSC to train MDCPS students on worker rights and train its human resources employees on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said of the case: “Employers must ensure that their human resources staff understand proper hiring practices.”

Gupta heads the Civil Rights Division, and also noted, “Promoting compliance is especially important to ensure that workers are not excluded due to discriminatory treatment.”

Anyone who would like more information on the INA, or anyone who thinks they might have been discriminated against because of their citizenship status, shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch with Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm. Inquiries can be made via the website or by calling 512-215-5225.