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The Justice Department has reached a $43,000 settlement with the Supermercado El Rancho chain of supermarkets operated by Mexico Foods LLC, d/b/a “El Rancho” Corp. The settlement resolves claims that the company engaged in discrimination during the employment eligibility verification process in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

An investigation by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) revealed that El Rancho required lawful permanent residents (sometimes referred to as “LPRs” or green card holders) to present a new employment eligibility document after being hired when their green cards expired, in violation of the law. LPRs have permanent work authorization in the United States, even after their green cards expire.

The investigation also revealed El Rancho routinely requested a specific work authorization document from LPRs during the initial employment eligibility verification process even though, under the law, employees are allowed to choose what documents to present. OSC found El Rancho’s discriminatory practices were based on employees’ citizenship status.

Under the settlement agreement, El Rancho must pay $43,000 in civil penalties, set-up a back pay fund to compensate individuals who lost work as a result of the improper reverification practices, undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA and submit to monitoring for 18 months.

This case follows others that were initiated based on a referral from the USCIS. As I have noted in prior posts, such referrals are becoming more common in OSC cases.

A copy of the Settlement Agreement is available here.