Skip to content

McDonald's franchisee in SD area paid DOJ $40K to settle discrimination claims

A San Diego McDonald's Franchisee reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve allegations of discrimination against non-U.S. citizens when asking for their documentation to work.
getty stock justice scales

A San Diego McDonald's Franchisee reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve allegations of discrimination against non-U.S. citizens when asking for their documentation to work. 

According to the DOJ, the franchisee was operating four San Diego County locations. The Sutherland Management Company refused to allow the worker who complained to begin working until he presented the unnecessary documentation, according to the department’s investigation. 

The investigation began after a non-U.S. citizen complained that the Sutherland Management Company refused to accept his valid documentation proving his permission to work, demanding another document from him. 

“Under federal law, employers may not discriminate by asking workers for more documents than necessary, or specific documents, to prove their permission to work because of their citizenship status, immigration status, or national origin,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division. “Employees have the right — U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens alike — to choose which valid, acceptable documentation they wish to present to prove their permission to work. The Civil Rights Division will continue to fight unlawful workplace discrimination on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, and national origin.” 

According to prosecutors, the investigation revealed the company had routinely discriminated against non-U.S. Citizens, primarily lawful permanent residents by asked 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. 

The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) 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. The DOJ said 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.

As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to pay $40,000 in civil penalties, pay backpay for lost wages to the worker who complained, review and revise its employment policies and train its employees who are responsible for verifying workers' permission to work in the United States.

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 can also call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for the hearing impaired); 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.