DOJ reaches settlement with SC company accused of violating anti-discrimination provisions of INA

The Department of Justice announced that they have reached a settlement with Centerplate Inc., a South Carolina based Food Service Provider. Centerplate Inc. had allegedly violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The company is one of the largest hospitality companies in the world employing over 10,000 employees nationwide.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) referred the company to the Justice Department which began an investigation under a memorandum of agreement between the Civil Rights Division. Once the Justice Department began its investigation, they found that Centerplate had engaged in a pattern of treating work-eligible non-U.S. citizens differently than U.S. citizens. There are various processes involved in the employment eligibility verification process including E-Verify that requires specific documents from non-U.S. citizens. The company did not make the same requests for U.S. citizens therefore not treating them equally.

Once a settlement had been reached, Centerplate has agreed to pay $250,000 in civil penalties  with this being “the third highest amount paid through settlement since enactment of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision in 1986.” Centerplate has also agreed to fully compensate any victims who had low wages because of the unfair practices that had been done. They will also be under the Justice Department’s monitoring for the next three-years and must undergo anti-discrimination training. The law prohibits discrimination of workers stating, “Work-eligible applicants – citizens and non-citizens alike – deserve fair and equal treatment in the eligibility verification process,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “Therefore, we will continue to vigorously enforce the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.”

More companies are being audited and penalized for discriminating against immigrants. Despite the immigration process happening now with Congress working on a new comprehensive reform plan, workers are still expected to be treated fairly and make the same wages as citizens in companies both large and small. Lawsuits by the justice department show how important it is for companies to comply with regulations and know that they will be heavily fined if they participate in any discrimination. This shows the direction in which the country is heading as the government stands firm against discrimination and wants to ensure each worker gets a fair opportunity to work their living.

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