Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Retaliation Claim Against Minnesota Company

(STL.News) – The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Taiyo International Inc. (Taiyo), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan-based Taiyo Kagaku that develops, produces, and sells various food and pharmaceutical ingredients.  The settlement resolves a claim that Taiyo retaliated against an applicant in violation of the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

“Employees and applicants must be able to raise concerns about discrimination without being subjected to retaliation that may deter them and others from asserting their rights,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.  “We appreciate Taiyo’s cooperation and are pleased that Taiyo has agreed to offer back pay to the affected U.S. citizen and take measures to ensure compliance with the law.”

Based on its investigation, the Department concluded that Taiyo rescinded a job offer it extended to a naturalized U.S. citizen in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination.  The Department determined that, during the applicant’s three interviews, Taiyo employees repeatedly asked the applicant improper questions related to her national origin, citizenship status, the timing of her naturalization, and her valid work authorization documents.  After Taiyo offered her the job, the applicant sent an email to the interviewers complaining that the treatment she received was discriminatory, and Taiyo immediately rescinded the job offer.

The INA’s antidiscrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring against employees because of their national origin, citizenship status, or immigration status.  The statute also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers because they opposed unlawful employer conduct or conduct that they reasonably believe was unlawful discrimination.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Taiyo will pay a civil penalty for the violation, offer back pay plus interest totaling $10,400.00 to the worker, post notices informing workers of their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, train its staff, and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the antidiscrimination provision of the INA.  Among other things, the statute prohibits discrimination against individuals who are authorized to work based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.

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