WASHINGTON – Gainesville, Georgia-based Mar-Jac Poultry Inc. agreed to pay a civil penalty and other costs to settle a lawsuit alleging the company routinely required non-citizen employees to show Dept. of Homeland (DHS) security documents to prove work authorization but did not require specific documents from US citizens, which is a violation of federal immigration law.
As part of the settlement, Mar-Jac will pay a civil penalty of $190,000. The company also will pay $1,020 to a refugee the company fired when he did not produce a DHS-issued document to re-verify his work authorization, in addition to $23,980 in back pay to compensate other affected employees and applicants. Mar-Jac agreed to train employees on the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.
“Even an employer that hires many non-US citizens can violate the INA if it treats employees differently based on citizenship status or national origin when verifying their identity and work authorization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “This case demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring that all employers implement the employment eligibility verification process in a non-discriminatory manner.”
The DOJ filed the lawsuit in 2011 after investigating a charge filed by a worker. In March 2017, a federal court found Mar-Jac liable “for a pattern or practice” of discrimination against non-US citizens the company hired between June 16, 2010 and Feb. 9, 2011. “All work-authorized individuals, whether US citizens or non-US citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work,” the DOJ said. “The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin.”