The Giant Company was ordered Monday to pay a civil penalty following claims a worker was discriminated against when applying for a job with the grocery chain, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The agency said Giant violated the Immigration and Nationality Act when it checked the person’s permission to work in the United States. The complaint was filed by a non-U.S. citizen who said Giant refused to accept “valid documentation proving her permission to work and demanded a different document from her,” according to the department.
“Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their citizenship, immigration status or national origin when verifying their permission to work,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a press release. “The Justice Department will continue to ensure that workers do not face unlawful discrimination when proving their permission to work in the United States.”
Under federal law, workers can choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to demonstrate their identity and permission to work, regardless of citizenship, immigration status or national origin.
The department said an investigation determined Giant routinely required specific documents from newly-hired non-U.S. citizens to prove they had permission to work in the United States. Specifically, it said Giant required lawfully permanent residents to show permanent resident cards, also known as “green cards,” as permission to work, even when other legal documentation was provided.
“The investigation also revealed that Giant refused to allow the worker who complained to begin working because she did not present a green card as demanded. At the same time, Giant allowed U.S. citizens to choose from among various acceptable document types,” according to the release.
As part of the settlement, the department ordered Giant to pay an $11,000 penalty, train staff on the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision, review and revise employment policies and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.
The department said Giant paid the worker for the missed pay. Giant employs more than 35,000 team members at more than 190 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey.