Two transportation companies will pay $700,000 in civil penalties related to a Department of Justice settlement that alleges they discriminated against non-U.S. citizen workers.  -  Photo: DOJ

Two transportation companies will pay $700,000 in civil penalties related to a Department of Justice settlement that alleges they discriminated against non-U.S. citizen workers.

Photo: DOJ

Covernant Transport and an affiliate company, both headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will pay a $700,000 settlement in connection with the Department of Justice’s determination they discriminated against non-U.S. citizen workers when checking their permission to work in the United States.

According to a DOJ news release, the practices of Covenant Transport Inc. as well as the affiliated entity Transport Management Services LLC violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Under the terms of the agreement, Covenant and Transport will pay $700,000 in civil penalties to the United States, train their employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements, revise their employment policies, and be subject to monitoring by DOJ.

According to published reports, Covenant disagreed with the department's findings but wanted to avoid costly litigation.

The DOJ investigation found that from January 2020 through at least August 2022, Covenant and Transport routinely discriminated against non-U.S. citizens by requiring lawful permanent residents to show their Permanent Resident Cards (known as green cards) and by requiring other non-U.S. citizens to show documents related to their immigration status.

Federal law allows all workers to choose which valid, legally acceptable documentation to present to demonstrate their identity and permission to work, regardless of citizenship status, immigration status, or national origin.

The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requiring specific or unnecessary documents because of a worker’s citizenship status, immigration status, or national origin.

DOJ said many non-U.S. citizens, including lawful permanent residents, are eligible for several of the same types of documents, such as a state ID, driver’s license, or unrestricted Social Security card, to prove their permission to work as U.S. citizens.

Employers must allow workers to present whatever acceptable documentation the workers choose and cannot reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the worker, according to the DOJ.

“Employers cannot discriminate against non-U.S. citizens by demanding specific or unnecessary documents from them to prove their permission to work,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a statement “The Justice Department is committed to ensuring compliance with our federal civil rights laws so that non-U.S. citizens with permission to work can contribute their talents to our workforce.”

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