South Carolina employees may be interested to know that McDonald's was ordered to pay $355,000 after the federal government determined the fast food chain had violated the law by refusing to accept expired green cards as proof of eligibility for employment. The company has also been ordered to forfeit back pay for all affected employees and will be monitored for a period of 20 months. According to the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, requiring unnecessary proof of citizenship or immigration status is an act of discrimination.
Complaints on the Justice Department's worker hotline about the restaurant chain's targeted practices resulted in the investigation. According to the complaints, McDonald's was requiring lawful permanent residents to produce new green cards as proof of legal residency when their original documents expired. Additional investigation uncovered McDonald's practice of only requesting new documentation from permanent residents and not from United States citizens.
The investigation found that when the cards of McDonald's employees who were permanent residents had expired, they were told they could not work. The Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General stated that this practice is illegal as employers are not permitted to hold permanent residents to a higher standard than citizens. The Immigration and Nationality Act states that permanent residents can choose whichever form of valid documentation they want. Employers are not permitted to discriminate in hiring or fire employees on this basis.
Business professionals who are permanent residents in the United States have the right to work, even if their green card documentation is expired. Victims of employment-based immigration may be eligible to file a complaint or even receive compensation from a discriminatory employer. An attorney may be able to help permanent resident employees prove that they have been unfairly targeted by an employer based on their immigration status.
Source: RT, "McDonald's ordered to pay $355,000 for discriminating against legal immigrants," Nov. 20, 2015