The Department of Justice, through the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement with Sutherland Management Company (Sutherland), who is a California-based McDonald’s franchisee operating four locations in the San Diego area. The settlement resolved claims that the McDonald’s franchisee discriminated against non-U.S. citizens when checking their permission to work in the United States.
The investigation began after a non-U.S. citizen complained that Sutherland refused to accept his valid documentation proving his permission to work and demanded a different document from him. The investigation revealed this same action was routinely done, thereby discriminating against non-U.S. citizens, primarily lawful permanent residents, by asking them to present specific Department of Homeland Security-issued documents to prove their permission to work in the United States. The investigation also revealed Sutherland refused to allow the worker who complained to begin working until he presented unnecessary documentation.
The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for more documents than necessary or specifying the type of documentation a worker should present to prove their permission to work, because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin.
Under the settlement, Sutherland will:
  1. Pay a civil penalty of $40,000;
  2. Pay the worker/Charging Party $1,430;
  3. Require its employees who are responsible for verifying and reverifying workers’ permission to work in the U.S., to attend IER-provided webinar, “IER Employer/HR Representative,” view an E-Verify webinar, and review IER educational materials;
  4. Change their employment policies to comply with the anti-discrimination provision of the INA so that it will not request specific, more, or different documents that is necessary in the verification process and will honor genuine documentation;
  5. Post IER’s poster, “If You Have the Right to Work,” in English and Spanish; and
  6. Be subjected to IER monitoring and reporting requirements for 3 years.
This settlement is the fourth one that IER entered into in May 2022 resolving allegations of discrimination because of one’s citizenship status. The other settlements involved JMJ Talent Solutions Inc., a staffing company, Amtex Systems Inc., an IT staffing and recruiting company, and Cloud Peritus Inc., an IT consulting services company.
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