Florida Hooters Franchisee Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Case with Justice Dept.


The DOJ settles with a Florida-based Hooters franchisee over immigration-related discrimination claims, ensuring compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with Destin Wings LLC, a Florida-based Hooters restaurant franchisee, over claims that it violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against a non-U.S. citizen during the work authorization verification process. The DOJ launched an investigation after the worker complained that Destin Wings refused to accept her valid documentation and demanded additional documents, which she was unable to provide due to her citizenship status.

The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting specific documents or more documentation than necessary based on a worker’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. Employers must permit employees to present any acceptable documentation of their choice and cannot reject legitimate documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasized the importance of avoiding discrimination during the employment verification process. “While employers are legally obligated to verify every new hire’s permission to work in the United States, they cannot discriminate based on the employee’s citizenship status or national origin in the process,” Clarke said.

The settlement mandates Destin Wings to pay a civil penalty to the U.S., offer backpay to the affected worker, provide staff training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and submit to departmental monitoring for three years. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will continue to enforce the INA and combat unlawful discrimination in the workplace.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. The IER offers guidance to employers and employees on how to avoid discrimination when verifying work authorization. It also provides resources such as hotlines, free webinars, and information on its website in English and Spanish.

Employers and employees can take advantage of the IER’s services to better understand their rights and responsibilities under the INA. The IER encourages anyone who believes they have been subjected to discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status, or national origin during the hiring, firing, or recruitment process, or in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify), to file a charge or contact the IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

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Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor at Small Business Trends. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.

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