Texas caterer nailed for “citizenship discrimination”

Missed this one from the fall: a Texas catering business will pay a fine to the U.S. government for having engaged in “citizenship discrimination.” “Culinaire International unlawfully discriminated against employees based on their citizenship status, the Justice Department claimed, because it required non-citizen employees to provide extra proof of their right to work in the United States. Culinaire has agreed to pay the United States $20,460 in civil penalties, receive training in anti-discrimination rules of the Immigration and Nationality Act, revise its work eligibility verification process, and create a $40,000 back pay fund for ‘potential economic victims.'” Employers face stringent penalties if they ask for too few documents, but that doesn’t mean they’re free to ask for any more than the right number. [Rachel Stoltzfoos, Daily Caller; Bill Watson (“Trying too hard to follow bad laws? That’s illegal”)] Several related cases, from fifteen years ago, here.


  • What is the right number of documents to ask for? I suspect it is some integral multiple of pi, e or some other irrational number.


  • Isn’t it also illegal in the USA to employ someone who doesn’t have the legal right to work there?

    Here in Canada most employers require that a prospective employee provide proof that they have the legal right to work here. It is considered a resonable question.

    If you really want to prevent illegal immigration then prosecute the people who hire them. This will remove the incentive to hop the border for work by drying up demand.

  • From the linked article:

    “A lawful permanent resident’s card expires, but their right to work is permanent, and in this case Culinaire was requiring employees to present a renewed permanent resident card to be verified as work-eligible. The Justice Department claimed this violated a provision in the INA that prohibits employers from requiring extra documentation from non-citizen employees.”

    How can you have a right to work if you no longer have a right to legally be here because your residency card has expired?

  • Ed: A lawful permanent resident’s right to legally be here is sort of permanent, hence the name. While it is possible to lose that status and be deported, that generally requires either criminal convictions or abandonment of your status by spending too much time outside the US. If your card simply expires, that doesn’t mean you no longer have the right to legally be here or work.

    Similarly, if I, a US Citizen, present my passport to an employer to prove my eligibility to work for a form I-9 and the passport expires next year, I still have the right to live and work here next year.

  • I think that the assumption is that although the card expires, permanent resident status is permanent, so someone with an expired card is still a permanent resident and therefore entitlled to work.

    The problem is that it is false that permanent resident status is permanent. Other than the right to vote and obtain certain security clearances, the difference between a citizen and a permanent resident is that permanent resident status can under certain circumstances be revoked. A felony conviction, for example, will typically lead to revocation of permanent resident status. So it seems entirely reasonable, if not mandatory, for a business to ascertain that a prospective employee is currently entitled to work in the US by demanding a current permanent resident card.

  • Ok. I’ll bite. Why would a PERMANENT resident card have an expiration date? I’ll bet the reason is just like my handicapped parking placard. Jobs. Got to keep those public sector union members employed, so every few years they have to send out new cards, with a new expiration date.

  • I think this particular post perfectly demonstrates the appropriateness of a website called “Overlawyered”. How is a business owner who does not have a staff of lawyers, or a lawyer on call for EVERY decision, going to be able to stay out of serious trouble without a stable of omniscient legal advice?

  • There are several good reasons for permanent resident cards to expire. One is so that if they are updated, e.g. for new security measures, there aren’t a lot of old, apparently valid, cards floating around. Expiry forces people to get the new ones. Another is that people with permanent resident status do with some frequency cease to be permanent residents. Every year about 6% of permanent residents become citizens and thereby cease to be permanent residents. Citizens of course are even more entitled to work than permanent residents – the risk is that their permanent resident cards, which they no longer need, will be passed on to illegal immigrants. Permanent residency may also be revoked due to conviction of a crime, staying outside of the United States for too long without prior arrangement, failing to notify Immigration of a change of address, or fraud in the application process.

  • @rxc,

    ” How is a business owner who does not have a staff of lawyers, or a lawyer on call for EVERY decision, going to be able to stay out of serious trouble without a stable of omniscient legal advice?”

    That’s the point, they aren’t supposed to be able to stay out of serous trouble. How is the government supposed to control them if they can stay out of trouble?

  • Back when I represented clients who faced these situations (not on employment matters, but collateral to worker’s comp claims), they would describe the utter rock-and-a-hard place they faced: ask for too little, violate the law; ask for too much, violate the law. The best lawyers could not give them a practical approach. Every time, it was a messy deal.

    And yes. In at least one state of the union — and probably many more — full-on illegal aliens are entitled to workman’s compensation.