WASHINGTON – McDonald’s USA LLC agreed to pay $355,000 in civil penalties to resolve claims of discrimination against immigrant employees at the chain’s company-owned stores, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said. McDonald’s denied any wrongdoing.

The settlement is the result of an investigation launched by The DOJ’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), which found that McDonald’s “had a longstanding practice” of requiring authorized permanent residents to show a new Green Card when the original card expired.

Workers who could not present a new card were denied work or lost their jobs, DOJ said. Federal law prohibits this practice.

“Employers cannot hold lawful permanent residents to a higher standard by placing additional documentary burdens upon them during the employment eligibility verification process,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Requiring unnecessary documentation of individuals based on their citizenship or immigration status is discriminatory, and the Department of Justice will not hesitate to enforce the law and protect the rights of work-authorized immigrants.”

Lawful permanent residents commonly receive a Green Card as proof of their status, but they are eligible for multiple documents to show proof of their eligibility to work, according to the DOJ. They can choose whatever valid documentation they want to establish their employment eligibility. Expiration of a Green Card doesn’t mean a lawful permanent resident loses the right to work or their status.

Furthermore, the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from placing additional documentary requirements on lawful permanent residents during the employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship or immigration status.

Under the settlement, McDonald’s also agreed to compensate lawful permanent resident employees who lost work or their jobs because of the document requirement; undergo monitoring for 20 months; and train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.