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McDonald’s franchise to pay $82K penalty, back pay to those unlawfully excluded from employment

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

The settlement resolves allegations that the franchise violated the INA’s antidiscrimination provision by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens at 30 restaurants when verifying their work authorization.

R.E.E. Inc., which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, has agreed to pay $82,800 in civil penalties to the United States and $8,746.43 in back pay to a worker who lost work as a result of the company’s hiring practices, according to the Department of Justice. The settlement resolves charges that 30 restaurants operated by R.E.E. violated the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization.

From at least October 14, 2015, to at least December 31, 2017, R.E.E. required non-U.S. citizens to provide specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove their work authorization because of their citizenship or immigration status, even though some had already presented other valid proof of their authorization to work, the DOJ’s investigation concluded. R.E.E. also improperly rejected valid documents that some non-U.S. citizens tried to present to prove their work authorization, such as their state IDs and unrestricted Social Security cards.

Equitable relief. Under the settlement agreement resolving the investigation, in addition to the civil penalty and the back pay to a particular worker who lost work as a result of R.E.E.’s hiring practices, the company will be subject to departmental monitoring, training, and reporting requirements.

R.E.C. must also compensate “qualified individuals” who suffered economic injury in the form of loss of pay due to the company’s practices. “Qualified individuals” includes any individuals as defined under § 1324b(a)(3) who lost pay, including from failure to hire, delayed hire, or other periods of lost work, as a result of R.E.E.’s employment eligibility verification practices from October 14, 2015, to December 31, 2017. Qualified individuals will be identified through notices posted in McDonald’s restaurants in the Rio Grande Valley and determined by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Immigration and Employee Rights Section.