Justice Department Files a Lawsuit Alleging Employment Discrimination by Georgia Rug Manufacturer and Seller

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against Garland Sales Inc., a rug manufacturer and seller located in Dalton, Ga., alleging it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to employment for work authorized individuals.

According to the department’s findings, Garland required all non-U.S. citizen applicants to present certain work authorization documents. The Immigration and National Act (INA) requires that employers not impose different or greater employment eligibility verification (I-9) standards on non-citizen authorized workers as compared to U.S. citizens. Garland imposed different and greater requirements on non-U.S. citizens as compared to applicants who were U.S. citizens.

Moreover, the department found that Garland retaliated against a limited English proficient naturalized U.S. citizen, when it rescinded a job offer. Specifically, Garland requested the individual produce a "Green Card" (Form I-551 Resident Alien Card), which the applicant did not have because he is a U.S. Citizen. When the applicant did not produce this document and voiced concern about being asked to produce it, Garland withdrew his offer of employment.

"The INA’s anti-discrimination provision makes it illegal to impose different rules for establishing work authorization based on actual or perceived citizenship status," said Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division. "Our Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is acting now to remedy this illegal pattern or practice of discrimination."

The lawsuit charging Garland was filed in the department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review – Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO).

The Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA, which protect U.S. citizens and certain work-authorized individuals from citizenship status discrimination. The INA also protects all work-authorized individuals from national origin discrimination, over-documentation in the employment eligibility verification process, and retaliation.

Earlier this month, OSC entered into an out-of-court settlement with Macy’s department stores to settle allegations that a store in Orlando, Fla., committed document abuse and discriminated against a legal permanent resident by requesting more work authorization documents than are required to establish eligibility under the Form I-9. As part of the settlement, Macy’s has agreed to train its human resources employees in its Orlando area stores about federal protections for workers against citizenship status and national origin discrimination, and properly conducting the employment verification process.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under the immigration laws, call 1-800-255-7688 (OSC’s worker hotline) (1-800-237-2525, TDD for hearing impaired), 1-800-255-8255 (OSC’s employer hotline) (1-800-362-2735, TDD for hearing impaired), or 202-616-5594. Email osccrt@usdoj.gov, or visit the website at www.justice.gov/crt/osc.