The Department of Justice has reached a settlement agreement with United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), resolving allegations that the company discriminated under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when it impermissibly reverified the work authority of lawful permanent residents and required some non-citizen workers to provide specific I-9 documentation.


A lawful permanent resident alleged UNFI improperly terminated him after he failed to produce an
unexpired lawful permanent resident card in connection with an erroneous reverification of his employment eligibility. The charging party had presented proper work authorization documentation at the time of hire, and UNFI had no reason to suspect that his documentation was not genuine. The employee had permanent work-authorization, but lost three weeks' worth of wages as a result of UNFI's practice.


The DOJ's investigation revealed UNFI reverified the documentation of similarly-situated lawful permanent residents when their documentation expired but did not reverify expired documentation of U.S. citizens. The anti-discrimination provision prohibits treating employees differently in the employment eligibility verification and reverification processes based on citizenship or national origin.


In response to the department's investigation, UNFI conducted an internal audit and undertook
immediate corrective action to address and rectify its employment eligibility verification policies and practices. As part of its corrective action, UNFI rehired the charging party and gave him full back pay. Under the settlement agreement, the company agreed to pay $3,190 in civil penalties, to conform all of its actions to ensure compliance with the INA's anti-discrimination provision and to train its human resources personnel about the company's responsibility to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process.