December 10, 2012

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against North Carolina Company

The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with Gamewell Mechanical Inc., a subsidiary of Woodfin Heating, Inc. based in Salisbury , N.C., resolving claims that the company violated the anti-discrimination prov ision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when it terminated three employees based on the incorrect assumption that they were undocumented foreign nationals when they were in fact U.S. citizens. The company is in the mechanical construction business and fabricates and installs heating and cooling systems.

The investigation stemmed from a charge filed by one of the three U.S. citizens. The investigation revealed that Gamewell officials had terminated the three indiv iduals when it received information that six of their co-workers were undocumented foreign nationals and incorrectly assumed that the three U.S. citizens were similarly not authorized to work in the United States.

Under the settlement agreement, Gamewell Mechanical will pay a total of $1 0,560 in back pay to the three discharged U.S. citizens, and $9,600 in civ il penalties to the United States. Gamewell Mechanical will also train its human resources staff about employers’ responsibilities to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process and be subject to reporting and compliance monitoring by the department for 18 months.

“The anti-discrimination prov ision protects work-authorized individuals from being treated differently in employ ment based on discriminatory assumptions about their status,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is fully committed to vigorously enforcing the law.”

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices is responsible for enforcing the INA’s anti-discrimination prov ision of the INA, which, among other things, protects work authorized individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of citizenship status or national origin discrimination in connection with hiring, firing, and the employ ment eligibility verification process.