Justice Department Settles Document Abuse Claim Against Imagine Schools in Ohio

The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with Imagine Schools Inc., resolving allegations that the company discriminated under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, when it fired an employee at its Imagine School in Groveport, Ohio, in connection with a “reverification” of his employment eligibility.

In a complaint filed with the department, the employee, a lawful permanent resident, alleged that Imagine School improperly terminated him after he failed to produce an unexpired lawful permanent resident card, also known as “green card,” during reverification of his employment eligibility status for purposes of Form I-9. The employee had originally presented a valid lawful permanent resident card when he was hired, and alleged that his reverification, along with the request for a specific document, was unlawful under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Under the rules governing employment eligibility verification, certain documents, including lawful permanent resident cards and U.S. passports, are not subject to reverification. The anti-discrimination provision prohibits discrimination based on citizenship or national origin in the employment eligibility verification process or reverification process.

Under the settlement agreement, Imagine Schools Inc. agrees to pay $20,169 in back pay plus interest to the charging party and $600 in civil penalties to the United States. Imagine Schools Inc. also agrees to comply with the law, to train its human resources personnel about employers’ responsibilities to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process, and to be subject to reporting and compliance monitory requirements for 18 months.

“All work-authorized individuals have the right to work without facing discriminatory hurdles during the employment eligibility verification or reverification process based on their citizenship status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department is committed to ensuring authorized workers are treated fairly during the employment eligibility verification process.”

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, which protects work authorized individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of citizenship status or national origin discrimination, including discrimination in hiring and the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. The Justice Department was represented by Luz V. Lopez-Ortiz in this matter.