The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on January 31 that it had reached a settlement agreement with Houston Community College (HCC) over allegations that the college violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision. The department began investigating the college, which employs approximately 6,000 workers across 20 campuses, after an individual filed a charge alleging that HCC had discriminated against her during the hiring process. The DOJ discovered that “for at least the last two years, HCC has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by requiring non-U.S. citizens to provide specific documentation establishing their work authority, while not making similar demands from U.S. citizens.” The department did not find, however, that the woman who filed the charge had herself been “a victim of the discriminatory practice.”
Per the settlement agreement, HCC will pay $83,600 in civil penalties and will create a $20,000 fund to cover back pay compensation for individuals who may have lost wages due to the discriminatory practice. Additionally, the college has agreed to abandon its “department-based employment eligibility verification process in favor of a centralized verification process.” HCC will also participate in DOJ training concerning the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act and will have its employment eligibility verification practices monitored for a two-year period.
According to Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez, “Employers cannot create higher hurdles for non-U.S. citizens in the employment process, including the employment eligibility verification process, than those required of U.S. citizens or those required by law. We commend HCC for restructuring its hiring processes to ensure that it will no longer be treating new-hires differently based on their citizenship status.”
State and federal laws protect employees and applicants from discrimination and harassment based on race, national origin, sex, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or pregnancy. When an employer engages in illegal practices or fails to take appropriate action concerning a workplace discrimination or harassment complaint, the victim(s) may be entitled to financial compensation or other remedies. If an employer or potential employer has discriminated against you, or if a supervisor or coworker is engaging in harassing behavior toward you, contact an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney today to learn about your legal rights. A dedicated Los Angeles employment lawyer will fight for the justice you deserve.