McDonald's Franchisee Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

Sutherland Management Company d/b/a McDonald's, a California-based franchisee operating four McDonald's locations in the San Diego area, has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The settlement resolves claims that the company discriminated against non-U.S. citizens when checking their permission to work in the United States, the Justice department said in a statement.

Under the settlement, Sutherland Management Company will pay $40,000 in civil penalties to the United States, pay backpay for lost wages to the worker who complained, review and revise their employment policies to comply with the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and train its employees who are responsible for verifying workers' permission to work in the United States.

The Justice department's investigation began after a non-U.S. citizen complained that Sutherland Management Company refused to accept his valid documentation proving his permission to work and demanded a different document from him.

The department's investigation revealed that the company routinely discriminated against non-U.S. citizens, primarily lawful permanent residents, by asking them to present specific, Department of Homeland Security-issued documents to prove their permission to work in the United States.

The investigation also revealed that Sutherland Management Company refused to allow the worker who complained to begin working until he presented the unnecessary documentation.

Under federal law, all employees have the right to choose which valid documentation they wish to present when demonstrating that they have permission to work in the United States.

The Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from asking for more documents than necessary — or specifying the type of documentation a worker should present — to prove their permission to work, because of a worker's citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

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