Commercial Cleaning Systems Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim for $78,500

Takeaway for Employers – Do Not Require I-9 Specific Documents from New Employees

On June 12, 2014, the Justice Department reached an agreement  with Commercial Cleaning Systems, a janitorial services company with headquarters in Denver.  The agreement resolves claims that the company discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

The department’s investigation was initiated based on a referral from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  The investigation found that Commercial Cleaning Systems required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present specific documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order to verify their employment eligibility, while U.S. citizens were permitted to present their choice of documentation.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin.

Under the settlement agreement, Commercial Cleaning Systems will pay $53,500 in civil penalties, create a $25,000 back pay fund to compensate individuals who may have lost wages as a result of the company’s discriminatory document practices, and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for one year.

“Discriminating against work-authorized employees because they are not citizens violates federal law and the Justice Department is committed to enforcing this law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “We applaud Commercial Cleaning Systems for working cooperatively with the division to resolve this matter.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The statute also prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee.  The case was handled by OSC Trial Attorney Linda White Andrews.

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