Palm Beach County schools settle national-origin discrimination complaint with U.S. DOJ

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Classroom. Credit: Pixabay.

The Palm Beach County School District will pay a $90,000 civil fine and up to $100,000 in back pay to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice alleging discrimination against immigrant employees and job seekers.

The district’s media office has not yet responded to an emailed request for details about how many people might be entitled to compensation.

According to the government, the district required people to provide specific but unnecessary documentation of their right to work in the United States on account of their immigration status.

Federal law allows new hires to present a range of documents attesting to their right to work in the United States, including an ID and Social Security card. However, the government says, the district demanded that immigrants present additional documents, including permanent residency cards (“green cards”).

That, the government says, amounted to national-origin discrimination in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“Employers must not discriminate against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens due to mistaken assumptions about their immigration status,” Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a written statement.

The agreement leaves individual victims of discrimination free to file separate claims against the school district. It also requires officials to notify adult enrollees in English as a Second Language classes of their rights under federal law and to update its training programs and employees handbooks to conform to nondiscrimination guidelines.

The settlement covers people who received conditional offer letters or “onboarding” paperwork since Jan. 1, 2018, but who ultimately didn’t get hired.