Justice Department Settles with Staffing Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with Chancery Staffing Solutions LLC (Chancery Staffing), a legal staffing company headquartered in New York, New York, also known as TransPerfect Staffing Solutions (TransPerfect Staffing). The settlement is intended to resolve the Department’s claims that the staffing company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when, at a law firm client’s directive, it screened out work authorized non-U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens with dual citizenship from a document review project without a lawful basis.

“Although there are some circumstances where it is permissible to hire only U.S. citizens, staffing agencies may only implement a client’s request to make citizenship status restrictions in hiring if required by law,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working with Chancery Staffing to help ensure its hiring procedures comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act’s protections against citizenship status discrimination.”

In May 2019, the Department filed a lawsuit against Chancery Staffing alleging that from at least April 4, 2017, to at least July 7, 2017, the company (operating under the TransPerfect Staffing name) restricted its recruitment and hiring of attorneys for a document review project to U.S. citizens only, and later, to U.S. citizens without dual citizenship, based on a law firm client’s directive. In a prior investigation of the law firm, the Department found that the firm’s request was based on a misunderstanding of the requirements of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Had Chancery Staffing independently assessed the basis for the client’s directive, this instance of citizenship status discrimination may have been avoided. 

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Chancery Staffing will pay a civil penalty of $27,000 and provide back pay to victims who are identified during the term of the settlement agreement. Additionally, Chancery Staffing will train relevant employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and obtain supporting documentation from clients that request a citizenship status restriction when staffing a project to help ensure that any such restriction is lawful. 

Under the INA, it is generally unlawful for employers to discriminate in hiring because of citizenship status unless required by a law or government contract. The Department determined that TransPerfect Staffing had no legal basis to discriminate. In light of the settlement, the parties will jointly seek to dismiss the case.

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.   

More information on how employers can avoid unlawful citizenship status discrimination is available here. IER will also be offering a free webinar on March 3, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, on how employers can avoid unlawful discrimination under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.  For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

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Author: February 18, 2020

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