A pizza restaurant franchise based in Florida recently reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over unfair document practices.
Pizzerias, LLC, a pizza delivery chain with over 31 locations throughout Miami, fell under investigation by the DOJ earlier this month for its employment eligibility verification practices. According to the report, the investigation revealed that the employer seemed to have a habit of asking new hires, who were lawful permanent residents, to provide List A documents based on their citizenship status, yet failing to do the same for U.S. citizens.
Pizza company hit with penalty
The immigration-related discrimination claims against Pizzerias posited that the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA's anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating against immigrants during the work authorization and employment eligibility verification process - which includes making unnecessary document-related demands based on their national origin or citizenship status. According to the report, the investigation revealed that the company regularly requested lawful permanent residents to present their permanent resident cards to prove they were authorized to work in the U.S.
"INA prohibits employers from discriminating based on citizenship or national origin."
The terms of the settlement agreement require Pizzerias to pay a civil penalty fee of $140,000. Additionally, the pizza chain has agreed to conduct training for their human resources teams about anti-discrimination practices for employment eligibility verification processes and to post notices informing staff members about their rights. The franchise is also subject to departmental monitoring and reporting.
"The Justice Department is committed to ensuring the rights of lawful U.S. workers to be free from discriminatory barriers based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin," Civil Rights Division Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler said. "Pizzerias' responsiveness throughout the course of the investigation assisted in a speedy resolution of this matter."
Importance of proper verification practices
The above case highlights just one example of the kind of legal ramifications employers can find themselves dealing with if they are not careful about their employee eligibility verification and work authorization processes. To minimize risk and ensure compliance is maintained, companies are highly recommended to regularly conduct HR training, as well as internal audits. Furthermore, employers should leverage E-Verify and related human resources software that can help better manage Form I-9 and other work authorization-related documents.
To learn more about the HR solutions that can help you avoid the risk of costly penalties and violations, contact I-9 Advantage today.