Roadside Assistance Company Settles U.S. DOJ Allegations It Violated Work Authorization Rules

The debate in Washington, D.C. over immigration policy is at a standstill. However, the day-to-day grind of enforcing our current immigration laws continues. There’s a lesson here for employers not to impose paperwork requirements on employees that go beyond what current law allows.

The Justice Department announced on April 6 it had reached an agreement with Brickell Financial Services Motor Club, Inc., d/b/a Road America Motor Club, Inc. (Road America), headquartered in Miami, Florida. The settlement resolves the department’s investigation into whether the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their work authorization.

The DOL said its investigation found that Road America routinely requested that lawful permanent residents show their Permanent Resident Cards to prove their work authorization but did not request specific documents from U.S. citizens. Lawful permanent residents often have the same work authorization documents available to them as U.S. citizens, and may choose acceptable documents other than a Permanent Resident Card to prove they are authorized to work. The investigation further revealed that Road America required lawful permanent resident employees to re-establish their work authorization when their Permanent Resident Cards expired, even though federal rules prohibit this practice. The antidiscrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on the employees’ citizenship or national origin.

“When verifying the work authorization of employees, employers may not erect unnecessary barriers based on employees’ citizenship or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “Employers must ensure they are aware of their legal obligations to avoid discrimination, and we applaud Road America for committing itself to do so through this settlement.”

Under the settlement, Road America will pay a civil penalty of $34,200 and pay $1,044 to compensate a worker who lost wages due to its unfair documentary practices. Road America has also agreed to post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, train their human resources personnel, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.

The division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, is responsible for enforcing the antidiscrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship, immigration status, and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.

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