By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Justice Department has reached a settlement agreement with Mrs. Fields’ Original Cookies Inc. (Mrs. Fields). The settlement resolves a claim that Mrs. Fields’ production and distribution center located in Salt Lake City, Utah, violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization.

The independent investigation concluded, from at least March 2016 to March 2017, Mrs. Fields required lawful permanent residents to provide specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove their work authorization, while not imposing this requirement on U.S. citizens.

All work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, have the right to choose which document to present, from a range of valid documents, to demonstrate their authorization to work in the United States. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin.

Under the settlement, Mrs. Fields will pay $26,400 in civil penalties to the United States, shall review its employment policies and revise such policies to prohibit discrimination on the basis of citizenship, immigration status and national origin, HR personnel must attend an IER employer webinar presentation, and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.
If you want to know more information on issues related to 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