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July 2023

Global Branded Food Company Defeats DOJ Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination Charge

A global branded food company defeated a charge filed in the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Faegre Drinker defended the food company in the complex matter, which included responding to multiple discovery requests and defending multiple witness interviews. The charge was brought by a job candidate who alleged that the food company rejected her “valid” Form I-9 documents and improperly delayed her work schedule.

Faegre Drinker successfully argued that the company did not discriminate against the charging party because of her citizenship status and/or national origin, or commit document abuse by requesting more or different documentation than is required to verify employment eligibility. Faegre Drinker demonstrated that the food company properly rejected her Form I-9 documents because it had expired and did not meet federal I-9 document requirements. The food company properly informed the charging party that federal I-9 rules prevented the company from accepting the expired documents and explained that the charging party had the option to present other documentation from the list of Form I-9 Acceptable Documents, in which case the charging party was unable or unwilling to present documents that met this requirement. 

Further, Faegre Drinker argued the charging party suffered no tangible employment action because the food company had not withdrawn its offer of employment and invited the charging party to present appropriate documentation of her choosing to complete the Form I-9 process. After a 17-month investigation, the IER dismissed the charge against the food company and determined that it did not have reasonable cause to believe that the food company discriminated against the charging party.

The IER enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, which prohibits (1) citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, (2) national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, (3) unfair documentary practices during employment eligibility verification, Form I-9 and E-Verify, and (4) retaliation or intimidation.

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