By: Bruce E Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement with MUY Brands LLC, a San Antonio, Texas-based owner and operator of approximately 78 Taco Bell restaurant franchises in six states, and a related management company, MUY Consulting Inc. The settlement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether the companies violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against lawful permanent residents because of their citizenship status.

The investigation concluded that, from July 2015 to March 2017, MUY Brands and MUY Consulting required specific work authorization documents from all lawful permanent residents who worked at their Taco Bell restaurants, while not imposing a similar requirement on U.S. citizens. As a result, some lawful permanent residents lost work opportunities, even though they had presented sufficient documentation to prove their authorization to work.

Federal law allows all work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, to choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will pay a civil penalty of $175,000, establish a $50,000 backpay fund to pay affected workers, revise 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, post IER’s poster – “If You Have the Right to Work”, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for two 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