By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Justice Department has entered into a settlement agreement with West Liberty Foods L.L.C., a meat processing business that operates a plant in Bolingbrook, Illinois, wherein the company will pay $52,100. The settlement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization.

The investigation revealed that West Liberty Foods routinely asked non-U.S. citizens hired at its Bolingbrook location to present specific documents, such as permanent resident cards or employment authorization documents, to establish their work authorization but did not make similar requests of U.S. citizens. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to more or different documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the settlement, West Liberty Foods will pay a civil penalty of $52,100 to the United States; revise employment policies to assure that West Liberty Foods does not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status; ensure that its human resources staff participates in IER-provided training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; and be subject to IER monitoring for two years.

This settlement demonstrates the need for employers to be aware of the anti-discrimination provision of the INA as it relates to treating employees differently due to their citizenship status. To learn more about employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.