Justice Department Settles Citizenship-Status Discrimination Against South Carolina Security Guard Firm Involving Former Interpreter for the U.S. Military in Iraq
(STL.News) – The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with Security Management of South Carolina LLC (Security Management), a private security company that provides armed and unarmed security services throughout South Carolina and Georgia.
The settlement resolves claims that Security Management discriminated against a worker in South Carolina by withdrawing his conditional job offer because of the worker’s status as a naturalized U.S. citizen. The settlement further resolves claims that Security Management discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in the state of Georgia by routinely limiting security officer positions to U.S. citizens without legal justification and posting job ads that deterred qualified non-citizens from applying.
“Companies cannot make hiring decisions based on how a worker became a U.S. citizen or post job advertisements with unlawful citizenship restrictions that deter qualified work-authorized applicants,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that work-authorized individuals protected under the Immigration and Nationality Act have an opportunity to apply and be considered for employment opportunities based on their merits.”
The department’s investigation began after a naturalized U.S. citizen (an individual who was born in another country and later became a U.S. citizen) filed a discrimination complaint against Security Management. Prior to immigrating to the U.S., the worker served as an interpreter for U.S. military forces in Iraq. Based on its investigation, the department concluded that after the worker successfully applied for a job with Security Management in South Carolina, the company unlawfully withdrew the worker’s job offer because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen instead of a native-born citizen. The department also concluded that from at least April 2018 through December 2019, Security Management posted job advertisements that restricted security officer positions in Georgia to U.S. citizens, thereby excluding work authorized non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents, asylees, and refugees. The department determined that Security Management did not have a legal basis for restricting hiring in Georgia to U.S. citizens.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) protects U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, refugees, asylees, and recent lawful permanent residents from citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee. Workers who fall outside of these categories are not protected from citizenship status discrimination under the INA. One example of citizenship status discrimination is when employers limit jobs to U.S. citizens or nationals as opposed to other protected individuals — to include asylees, refugees, and recent lawful permanent residents — without legal justification.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Security Management will pay a civil penalty of $60,000, establish a $75,000 back pay fund for affected workers, and pay the worker whose discrimination complaint prompted the investigation $7,907.81 in back pay. Security Management will also remove unlawful citizenship status restrictions from its job advertisements, revise its policies and procedures, train relevant employees about the requirements of the INA’s citizenship-status provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.
The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.
Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. More information about how to avoid discrimination when recruiting and hiring workers is available here. For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, contact IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688; call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email IER@usdoj.gov; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.
Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment, or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, can file a charge.