Department of JusticeOffice of Public AffairsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMonday, May 24, 2021
Justice Department Settles with Georgia-Based Staffing Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims
Note: A full copy of the settlement agreement can be viewed here.
This press release is also available in Spanish.
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with Pyramid Consulting Inc., an IT staffing company based in Georgia.
The settlement resolves claims that Pyramid Consulting discriminated against a new employee when it rejected his valid employment authorization documentation and requested an unnecessary extra document because he is an asylee, then fired him because he refused to comply with the company’s unlawful request.
“Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their citizenship or immigration status by restricting the types of valid work authorization documents that employees can present, or by firing them for refusing to comply with illegal document requests,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that Pyramid Consulting will compensate the charging party for lost wages and work with the Department of Justice to ensure that the company does not impose unlawful discriminatory barriers on employees when verifying their eligibility to work.”
The department’s investigation began after an asylee filed a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division against Pyramid Consulting. Based on its investigation, the department concluded that during the process of verifying his employment eligibility through the Form I-9, Pyramid Consulting rejected the worker’s driver’s license and Social Security card, which are sufficient documentation for the Form I-9. The department also determined that Pyramid Consulting requested that he provide an Employment Authorization Document instead. After the worker refused, and even after he directed Pyramid Consulting to the relevant law prohibiting unfair documentary practices, Pyramid Consulting terminated his employment. Following the department’s initiation of its investigation, Pyramid Consulting rehired the worker, but only after he lost several weeks of pay.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to establish eligibility to work based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.
Under the terms of the settlement, Pyramid Consulting will pay a civil penalty to the United States of $5,204 and back pay of $13,920 to the worker. It will also revise its policies and procedures, ensure that relevant employees participate in training on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring over the term of the agreement.
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. Like U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees may have several kinds of valid Form I-9 documents, and employers that request specific documents from them for the Form I-9 may be violating the law that IER enforces.
Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. 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, may file a charge. The public also may 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.Topic(s):Civil RightsPress Release Number:21-482
From ASA: Pyramid Consulting Comment
In a statement, Pyramid Consulting responded: “In regard to the recent DOJ posting of May 25, it is the opinion of Pyramid Consulting that DOJ has incorrectly characterized the circumstances in its press release and erroneously concluded that Pyramid Consulting discriminated against a new employee. Pyramid Consulting maintains that the company did not engage in intentional discrimination against the employee and would like to point out that DOJ has not substantiated this claim of discrimination. While DOJ claims that Pyramid Consulting rejected the employee’s valid employment authorization documentation and then fired him because he refused to comply with the company’s unlawful request, that is not accurate.
“Pyramid Consulting at no time intentionally discriminated against the employee and did not ‘fire’ him. However, Pyramid Consulting does acknowledge that it did make an unintentional administrative error with respect to the processing of the employee’s paperwork for a job placement and therefore had already agreed to compensate him for lost wages prior to DOJ starting the investigation and several months before reaching the settlement with DOJ. DOJ’s investigation ultimately only served to delay the payment of back pay to the employee. Given that Pyramid Consulting had already intended to compensate the employee, the company chose to settle the claim with DOJ rather than incur the time and cost of litigation. This DOJ settlement in fact closes the inquiry.”