McDonald's USA LLC reached a settlement with the Department of Justice following allegations that the company discriminated against immigrant employees of restaurants it owns.
The DOJ's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices received a tip through its worker hotline that some of McDonald's employees may have been subjected to discriminatory practices, a press release explained. Specifically, the company was accused of discriminating against employees who are permanent residents and whose permanent resident cards had expired. As part of the settlement agreement, McDonald's agreed to pay a $355,000 fine.
Employers are required to apply the same documents standards to all hires
Permanent residents are allowed to work in the U.S. indefinitely, even following the expiration of their green cards. For this reason, when those documents expire employers should not request new documentation - especially new permanent resident cards specifically.
"McDonald's agreed to pay a $355,000 fine."
"Employers cannot hold lawful permanent residents to a higher standard by placing additional documentary burdens upon them during the employment eligibility verification process," Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division. "Requiring unnecessary documentation of individuals based on their citizenship or immigration status is discriminatory, and the DOJ will not hesitate to enforce the law and protect the rights of work-authorized immigrants. We commend 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."
The probe into McDonald's employee reverification policies determined that the company had a practice of requiring permanent residents to show new green cards following the expiration of the original ones they had used during the Form I-9 background verification process. The law does not allow employers to do so. The investigation also found that the company did not make similar requests of U.S. citizens whose own documents expired. Permanent residents who were not able to produce new documents were either not allowed to work or let go, according to the investigation.
There is no time limit on permanent resident card-holder's work authorization
Lawful permanent residents are eligible for multiple identification documents, according to the DOJ. As a result, they are not required to show their permanent resident cards upon hiring. Any documents classified as List A, B or C - in the right combination - are acceptable for the Form I-9 process. New hires who show an unexpired green card during background verification are not required to provide alternative documents, or a new green card when the original reaches its expiration date. Asking lawful permanent residents to do so is a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
In addition to the fine, the settlement will require McDonald's to undergo monitoring of its hiring practices for 20 months, to ensure that they are compliant with the INA. The company will also be required to train its employees on the INA's anti-discrimination provision. Corporate-owned McDonald's restaurants will also be required to compensate individuals who lost work or their jobs as a result of the company's hiring policies regarding lawful permanent residents.
It is important that employers ensure their hiring processes are compliant with the anti-discrimination portion of the INA, since the OSC has been vigilant about seeking out violators in recent months. Companies that place an extra burden regarding documentation on non-citizens may be subject to large fines as a result of those practices.