By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice has reached a settlement agreement with R.E.E. Inc., which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. The settlement resolves a claim that the restaurants operated by R.E.E. violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The IER’s investigation concluded from October 14, 2015 to December 31, 2017, R.E.E. required non-U.S. citizens to provide specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove their work authorization because of their citizenship or immigration status, even though some had already presented other valid proof of their authorization to work. The IER also concluded R.E.E. improperly rejected valid documents some non-U.S. citizens tried to present to prove their work authorization, such as their state IDs and unrestricted Social Security cards. All work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, have the right to choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States.

Under the settlement, R.E.E. will pay $82,800 in civil penalties to the United States, pay $8,746 in back pay to a worker who lost work as a result of R.E.E.’s hiring practices, pay an undetermined amount of backpay to others affected by the unlawful practices, revise and/or create employment policies related to immigration compliance, train its human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA’s antidiscrimination provision through attendance at an IER webinar, HR personnel pass a 15 question multiple choice test, post IER’s poster – “If You Have the Right to Work”, and be subject to departmental monitoring, training and reporting requirements for 3 years.

If you want to know more information on issues of citizenship status discrimination and 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