The U.S. Justice Department has reached an agreement with Houston Community College, resolving allegations that the college violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Justice Department says, the community college will pay $83,600 in civil penalties and has agreed to abandon its prior department-based employment eligibility verification process in favor of a centralized verification process. The community college also will create a $20,000 back-pay fund to compensate potential victims who lost wages as a result of the discriminatory practices and will undergo Justice Department training on the anti-discrimination provisions of the immigration law.
The investigation began after an individual that the school discriminated against her in the hiring process. Investigators determined that for at least the last two years, the community college had engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by requiring non-U.S. citizens to provide specific documentation establishing their work authority, while not making similar demands from U.S. citizens.
“Employers cannot create higher hurdles for non-U.S. citizens in the employment process, including the employment eligibility verification process, than those required of U.S. citizens or those required by law,” says Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We commend [the college] for restructuring its hiring processes to ensure that it will no longer be treating new hires differently based on their citizenship status.”
Houston Community College employs about 6,000 people on 20 campuses and is one of the largest community colleges in the nation.