Panda Express Agrees to Pay $400,000 in fines and $200,000 in back pay for Discrimination in I-9 Pro
The Department of Justice (DOJ) just announced they reached an agreement with Panda Restaurant Group aka Panda Express regarding the company’s alleged discriminatory practices in the I-9 process.
Panda Express has agreed to pay $400,000 in civil penalties to the DOJ as well as to establish a back pay fund of $200,000 for workers who were terminated based on the discrimination. Additionally, DOJ is requiring Panda Express to train its human resource personnel on discrimination and be subject to government monitoring and reporting requirements.
Panda Express was allegedly discriminating against employees by reverifying some employees’ permanent resident cards, even though lawful permanent residents have the indefinite right to work and live in the United States. The company was also said to have been requesting more documents than necessary for other non-U.S. citizen workers. New hires may provide valid List A or combination of one List B and one List C document to prove their identity and work authorization, no more and no less.
These are common discriminatory practices for untrained personnel and end up being very costly for companies. Both Nebraska Beef and Abercrombie and Fitch, also companies with robust human resources offices, had been committing the same discriminatory practices because their personnel lacked training.
We reported in January of this year that new Federal regulations have reorganized the DOJ’s Office of Special Counsel (now called Immigrant and Employee Rights Section) and clarified their stance on the only defense to discriminatory practices in the hiring process, which is to not discriminate. To avoid discriminatory practices and to start complying with immigration regulations now, you should train anyone who touches the I-9 process.
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