Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims Against Law Firm

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims Against Law Firm and Legal Staffing Agency

(STL.News) – The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (Arnold & Porter), a national law firm, and Law Resources Inc. (Law Resources), a Washington, D.C.-based legal staffing company, resolving claims that the companies engaged in hiring discrimination based on citizenship status.

The settlement resolves claims that Law Resources, at Arnold & Porter’s direction, screened out U.S. citizens with dual citizenship and non-U.S. citizens with work authorization from a document review project because of their citizenship status, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  The settlement also resolves claims that Law Resources retaliated against an affected worker when she objected to the citizenship status restriction.

The United States of America is the land of opportunity, and the United States government remains committed fully to the fundamental principle that in this country, all people authorized by law to work should be able to pursue happiness by earning a living without suffering the indignity of discrimination because of where they came from.  Our law protects this ideal in many ways, including by prohibiting unlawful citizenship status restrictions in hiring,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.   “We look forward to working with Law Resources and Arnold & Porter to ensure their hiring procedures fully comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act’s prohibition against citizenship status discrimination in employment.”

The department began its investigation after a U.S. citizen with dual citizenship filed a discrimination complaint against Law Resources, which led the department to open an independent investigation of Arnold & Porter.

Under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, it is generally unlawful for employers to discriminate in hiring because of citizenship status unless required by a law or government contract.  The department determined that neither Arnold & Porter nor Law Resources had a legal basis for the citizenship hiring restrictions.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers because they opposed unlawful employer conduct or conduct that they reasonably believed was unlawful discrimination.

The investigations concluded that Arnold & Porter and Law Resources implemented a policy of excluding dual citizens and work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when recruiting and hiring temporary employees to staff an Arnold & Porter document review project in the fall of 2018.  In its investigation, the department found that Arnold & Porter improperly interpreted the requirements of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  The investigations also concluded that after the complainant objected to the citizenship status restriction, Law Resources separately retaliated against her by placing her on a list of people not to be hired in the future.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Arnold & Porter and Law Resources will pay a civil penalty of $56,500 for the citizenship status discrimination claims.  Law Resources will separately pay an additional civil penalty of $3,000 and offer $11,875 in back pay to the affected worker to resolve the retaliation claim.  The companies will jointly offer a $55,000 back-pay fund to other affected workers, train relevant employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.

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