Justice Department Settles Allegations of Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination Against Hoover Inc.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice Department announced that it reached a settlement agreement with Hoover Inc., a leading manufacturer of vacuum and carpet cleaners with facilities in Ohio and Texas, to resolve allegations that Hoover engaged in a pattern or practice of employment discrimination by imposing unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles in the I-9 process upon lawful permanent residents.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from treating permanent residents differently than U.S. citizens in the I-9 process.

So what did Hoover do incorrectly?  According to the Department’s findings, Hoover required all permanent residents who presented a permanent resident card (green card) for I-9 purposes to produce a new green card when theirs expired. The problem is that Hoover’s U.S. citizen workers were not required to present new documents.  Like U.S. citizens, permanent residents are always work authorized, regardless of the expiration of their documentation.

Under the terms of the settlement, Hoover has agreed to pay $10,200 in civil penalties. Hoover will also train its human resources personnel about employers’ nondiscrimination responsibilities in the I-9 process, and it will provide periodic reports to the department for one year.

“All permanent residents in the United States have the right to continued employment without the burden of presenting new documentation when their green cards expire,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased to have reached the settlement with Hoover and look forward to continuing to work with all employers, both public and private, to educate them about their responsibilities under federal law.”

Recently, other well known employers have allegedly made similar mistakes in treating permanent residents differently than U.S. citizens in the I-9 process.  In August, 2010, a lawsuit was filed by the Justice Department against the Maricopa County Community College District, alleging that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to employment for work authorized noncitizens.    The suit claims that the District required all newly hired non-citizens to present additional work authorization documents beyond those required by law, but did not require U.S. citizens to do so. Affected at least 247 non-U.S. citizens.  In June, 2010, there was a settlement between the Justice Department and Morton’s of Chicago/Portland Inc.  The company allegedly required two non-citizens authorized to work to present more documents than legally required to establish their work eligibility.  Morton’s fired the workers after it rejected their valid Social Security cards and demanded to see additional documentation establishing their work authorization. In contrast, Morton’s routinely permitted U.S. citizens to present their Social Security cards for this purpose.  The damages included back pay of $2,880 and $5,715.62; civil penalty of $2,200; training of employees; and one year of monitoring.

Within the Jusitce Department, the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, which protects work authorized individuals against discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee on the basis of citizenship status and national origin. The INA also protects all work authorized individuals from discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process and from retaliation.

As Co-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation, Immigration Litigation Subcommittee, Peter F. Asaad, Esq. is proud to present the second installment of the ABA’s new Lunch and Learn Teleconference Series.  Join us on December 14th from 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST for the topic, “Avoiding Discrimination Claims in the Employment Verification Process, An Introduction to the Office of Special Counsel.”  We hope that you will join the discussion as Jennifer Sultan, Acting Special Litigation Counsel, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division lends her expertise on anti-discrimination considerations in employee hiring and verification. The mission of the Office of Special counsel is to educate both legally authorized workers and their employers about the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, enforce legal protections against citizenship and national original discrimination and document abuse in hiring, firing and referral for a fee. Join us as we highlight specific employer concerns and discuss the implications of recent settlements making headlines around the country.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under the immigration law, contact Peter F. Asaad, Esq. at (202) 234-0899.

2 Responses to “Justice Department Settles Allegations of Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination Against Hoover Inc.”

  1. [...] have the ability or proper understanding to police their workers. They end up in discrimination suits, as some companies have experienced, for demanding additional documents from workers whom they [...]

  2. [...] The hearing title itself read like a FoxNews piece with a question mark at the end to plant the idea into viewers’ heads, ”ICE Work-Site Enforcement — Up for the Job?   By simply putting a question mark at the end of the hearing title, the Republican-led majority was trying to suggest that the Obama administration is not up for the job.  Essentially, the hearing was put together to paint ICE and the Obama administration as soft on enforcement and that is exactly how the hearing played out.  It was theatrics… not problem-solving.  This approach of politics over substance should spell concern to employers who in good faith are trying to follow the rules set forth in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, yet are being punished to score points for politicians.  Employers are not document fraud experts.  However, current immigration law puts companies in a tough spot—they must properly review workers’ documentation but they must walk a fine line to avoid discrimination in their hiring practices when they too thoroughly reviewing workers’ documen….  [...]