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Justice Department settles lawsuit against Aldine ISD

The Justice Department announced that it reached a settlement with the Aldine, Texas, Independent School District resolving allegations that the district discriminated against work-authorized non-citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The district is the ninth largest school district in the state with an enrollment of almost 70,000 students.

The department’s investigation, conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), found that Aldine required non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documents when reverifying their employment eligibility once their original documents expired. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making specific documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin when verifying or reverifying an employee’s authorization to work. Under the INA, all workers, including non-U.S. citizens, must be allowed to choose whichever valid documentation they would like to present from the lists of acceptable documents to prove their work authorization, and employers cannot limit employees’ choice of documentation because of their citizenship or national origin.

“Employers must ensure that their human resources staff understand proper hiring practices,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The INA prohibits discrimination because of citizenship status and the Civil Rights Division continues to enforce this statute around the country to remind all employers of their compliance obligations as well as to vindicate the rights of employees.”

As part of the agreement, Aldine will revise its policies and procedures, pay a $140,000 civil penalty and implement a three-year program to train employees, students and students’ parents on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. Specifically, the training program, which will be developed by Aldine staff, will be focused on educating adult participants in Aldine’s parent literacy/English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, 12th grade students enrolled in certain classes and the school district’s employees.

OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/webinars.php, email osccrt@usdoj.gov or visit OSC’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee should contact OSC’s worker hotline for assistance. Trial Attorney Richard Crespo of the Civil Rights Division handled this matter.

STATEMENT BY ALDINE ISD REGARDING SUIT:

When notified by the DOJ, the District took immediate corrective action to train staff and revise its procedures for verifying and re-verifying employment eligibility.

The District values the contribution of all employees and we are committed to promoting a workplace free of discrimination.