The Department of Justice announced last week that it had reached a settlement with McDonald’s USA and its corporate affiliates and subsidiaries. The settlement resolved allegations that McDonald’s had discriminated against immigrant employees of McDonald’s-owned restaurants. The settlement only addresses actions by restaurants owned by McDonald’s, not by the franchisees.

The Department of Justice opened an investigation after receiving information on its worker hotline. The investigation found that McDonald’s had a longstanding practice of requiring lawful permanent residents to show a new permanent resident card when the original card expired. This practice occurred even though it’s illegal to ask a permanent resident to show their new card.

The investigation also found that the company did not ask its U.S. citizen employees to show any of their identification documents that later expired, such as a passport or driver’s license. In addition, the lawful permanent residents who could not provide a new card were not allowed to work, and some even lost their jobs.

By law, lawful permanent residents have the authorization to live and work in the United States permanently. In order to prove their status, lawful permanent residents receive a permanent resident card, sometimes called a Green Card. In addition, lawful permanent residents are eligible for multiple documents that show their eligibility to work.

Legally, lawful permanent residents do not have to show their permanent resident cards when they start working. Instead, like other employees, they can choose whichever documentation they want to show their employment authorization. Even though most permanent resident cards have an expiration date, just like a passport or a driver’s license does, if the card expires it does not mean that the individual loses their right to work in the U.S. or their legal status.

If a lawful permanent resident chooses to show their permanent resident card, they cannot be legally required to show any additional documentation when the card expires. Also, employers cannot ask for any additional documents from lawful permanent residents. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, employers are prohibited from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the employment eligibility verification process because of their immigration status or citizenship.

As part of the settlement, McDonald’s has agreed to pay $355,000 in penalties to the U.S., submit to monitoring for 20 months, and train employees on the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision. In addition, McDonald’s is required to compensate lawful permanent resident employees who lost work or lost their jobs because of the illegal documentary practices. Employees who worked for a corporate-owned McDonald’s between September 2012 and March 2015 may be able to recover compensation if they were fired or forced to miss work because they could not show a new permanent resident card.

It’s often surprising when a huge corporation like McDonald’s is found to have violated federal discrimination laws. When a company violates federal discrimination laws, it can be held legally liable, and forced to pay employees who were negatively affected. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no employee should face illegal employment discrimination in violation of federal law.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against illegally in the workplace, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment discrimination attorney or Seth I. Rosenberg at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients throughout the San Francisco Bay area, including Hayward, Fairfield, Tracy, San Jose, Sacramento, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Call her today to learn more about your case or to schedule your free consultation. You may be able to recover compensation for your lost wages, lost benefits, emotional damages, and more.

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