By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Department of Justice, through the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement agreement with Southwest Key Programs (SKP), an organization that operates detention centers in several states. The settlement resolves a claim that SKP retaliated against a former employee in violation of the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

According to the IER’s investigation, a former SKP employee applied for several jobs with SKP after receiving his renewed employment authorization documentation (EAD). However, an SKP human resource employee told the former employee that SKP would not rehire him because he previously stated he would file a discrimination complaint regarding a dispute about his employment documentation. The IER also concluded the SKP staffer further retaliated against the former employee by spreading misinformation about him to SKP colleagues to prevent him from being rehired.

The INA’s antidiscrimination provision generally prohibits employers from retaliating against workers because they intend to file a discrimination complaint, or for exercising rights protected under that provision.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, SKP will pay $68,000 to the former employee in front pay and back pay plus interest, pay a civil penalty of $2956 to the U.S. government; revise employment policies related to immigration compliance; train relevant employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, through attendance at an IER webinar; post IER posters informing workers of their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision; and be subject to departmental monitoring for 20 months.

If you want to know more about issues of immigration status discrimination and retaliation, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at