Sunny Grove Landscaping & Nursery Inc., a company based in Ft. Myers, Fl., recently settled with the Department of Justice following allegations of Immigration and Nationality Act violations due to a discriminatory hiring process.
Landscaping company accused of violating the INA
As part of the settlement agreement, the landscaping company will be required to pay $7,500 in civil penalties to the U.S., according to a press release The DOJ's Sunny Grove investigation focused on whether it was discriminating against lawful permanent residents. Citizenship status should not alter the way an employer treats a staff member, as long as the individual is legally allowed to work in the U.S. In fact, permanent resident card, or green card, holders are allowed to work in the U.S. indefinitely. Treating these individuals, as well as any others authorized for employment in the U.S., differently than citizens can lead to a discrimination claim and, potentially, a fine from the U.S. government.
"The landscaping company will pay $7,500 in civil penalties."
"The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting work-authorized individuals from discriminatory practices in the employment eligibility verification process," Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, said in the press release. "We commend Sunny Grove for working cooperatively with the division to resolve this matter."
The DOJ probe found that the landscaping company discriminated against lawful permanent residents by requiring them to show their green cards to prove they were authorized to work in the U.S. Sunny Grove, meanwhile, did not ask U.S. citizens for specific documentation but, instead, allowed them to provide whichever proof of authorization they chose. Like all individuals authorized for employment, permanent residents can provide which combination of List A, B and C documents they choose, as long as what they provide meets Form I-9 background verification standards.
Sunny Grove subject to more than civil penalty
Sunny Grove's settlement with the DOJ calls for more than a $7,500 fine. The company will also be subject to DOJ-provided training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Additionally, the Sunny Grove will be supervised by and required to report to the department.
Employers should ensure staff members in control of the hiring process are aware that it is a violation of the INA for them to request specific documents from anyone authorized to work in the U.S., regardless of citizenship status. No extra burdens should be placed on new hires authorized to work in the U.S.