By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has reached a settlement agreement with Pete Pappas and Sons Inc., a produce distribution company located in Jessup, Maryland, to resolve claims that Pappas and Sons violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by unlawfully requesting specific work authorization documents from non-U.S. citizens based on their citizenship or immigration status

The IER initiated an investigation after a refugee filed a charge alleging Pappas and Sons required him to present an unnecessary immigration document during onboarding, even though he had already presented a driver’s license and unrestricted Social Security card, which were sufficient to prove his identity and work authorization. The investigation concluded a human resources employee at Pappas and Sons rejected valid documents and routinely requested unnecessary immigration documents from non-U.S. citizens because of their citizenship or immigration status, which, in the refugee worker’s case, delayed his start date. The INA prohibits employers from rejecting valid documents and making unnecessary requests for additional work eligibility documentation based on a worker’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the settlement, Pappas and Sons will pay a civil penalty of $13,700 to the United States, provide back wages of $1465 to the aggrieved worker, engage in training its human resources staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA through attendance at an IER webinar, review and revise its existing employment policies to ensure compliance with the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, and be subject to compliance monitoring for three years by the IER.

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