The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with Mar-Jac Poultry Inc. in a discrimination suit that dates back to 2011.

In the settlement agreement, the company will pay a fine of $190,000 and about $25,000 to former employees.

The long-standing lawsuit was filed by the DOJ, claiming that the poultry company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INI) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization. The initial complaint was filed after the DOJ investigated a charge that was filed by a worker.

That worker’s complain alleged that from at least July 1, 2009, to at least January 27, 2011, Mar-Jac Poultry routinely required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present a document issued by the Department of Homeland Security, such as a Permanent Resident Card or Employment Authorization Document, to prove their work authorization, but did not require specific documents from U.S. citizens.

On March 3, 2017, the court found that Mar-Jac was liable for a pattern or practice of this type of discrimination against non-U.S. citizens hired between June 16, 2010, and February 9, 2011, leaving monetary and other remedies for future resolution. 

All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work, according to a press release from the DOJ. The INA’s antidiscrimination provision prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin, the department further stated.

“Even an employer that hires many non-U.S. citizens can violate the INA if it treats employees differently based on citizenship status or national origin when verifying their identity and work authorization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “This case demonstrates the Department’s commitment to ensuring that all employers implement the employment eligibility verification process in a non-discriminatory manner.”

Under the settlement agreement, Mar-Jac will pay a civil penalty of $190,000; pay $1020 to a refugee the company fired when he did not produce a DHS-issued document to reverify his work authority; pay up to $23,980 in back pay to compensate other affected employees and applicants; train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.