May 05, 2015

Government Settles Lawsuit Against International Hotel Chain Over Discrimination Against Foreign-Born Worker

The Justice Department recently announced that it reached a settlement with Hilton Worldwide (Hilton), an international hotel chain, to resolve allegations that Hilton discriminated against a foreign-born worker. Specifically, the department found that a Hilton-owned hotel in Naples, Florida, discriminated against an asylee by improperly rejecting his Social Security card when the hotel reverified his employment authorization.

Under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers cannot reject an employee’s work-authorization documents because of the employee’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. When verifying or re-verifying an employee’s work authorization, employers must allow workers to choose which documents to present from the lists of acceptable documents, and employers cannot reject documents that reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the worker.

This matter first came to the department’s attention through the worker hotline of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC). By the time the parties reached a settlement, Hilton had rehired the worker who was harmed by the company’s practices. Under the settlement agreement, Hilton will pay the worker $12,600 for lost wages, pay a $550 civil penalty to the United States, change its employment policies and be subject to two years of monitoring by the Justice Department.

“Employers must ensure that they have non-discriminatory Form I-9 practices,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to work with employers to help implement best practices that comply with federal law.”

The department recently issued a document, How Employers Can Avoid Discrimination in the Form I-9 and E-Verify Processes, to help employers implement best practices that comply with federal law. OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.

Full details of the settlement agreement.

If you have questions about anti-discrimination and other complex immigration rules that challenge your business, you are invited to call our employer hotline now on 214-672-2000 or complete this form to schedule a confidential and thorough 30-minute strategy session. Our meeting will provide you with a concise roadmap on how to best proceed with your compliance needs.