By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement with Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc., a poultry processing company in Gainesville, Georgia. The settlement resolves a long-standing lawsuit filed by DOJ alleging Mar-Jac Poultry violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization.

DOJ filed its complaint on July 14, 2011, after investigating a charge from a worker, alleging that from at least July 1, 2009 to at least January 27, 2011, Mar-Jac Poultry routinely required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present a document issued by the Department of Homeland Security, such as a Permanent Resident Card or Employment Authorization Document, to prove their work authorization, but did not require specific documents from U.S. citizens. On March 3, 2017, the court found that Mar-Jac was liable for a pattern or practice of this type of discrimination against non-U.S. citizens that Mar-Jac Poultry hired between June 16, 2010 and February 9, 2011, leaving monetary and other remedies for future resolution. All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work. The INA’s antidiscrimination provision prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin.

Under the settlement agreement, Mar-Jac Poultry will pay a civil penalty of $190,000; pay $1,020 to a refugee the company fired when he did not produce a DHS-issued document to reverify his work authorization; pay up to $23,980 in back pay to compensate other affected employees and applicants; train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; and be subject to IER monitoring for two years.

If you want to know more information on employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at