Washington, DC - The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it reached a settlement with Tecon Services Inc. (Tecon), an industrial insulation, fireproofing and painting contractor based in Texas. The settlement resolves claims that Tecon discriminated against a naturalized U.S. citizen based on her Venezuelan national origin by rejecting her U.S. passport and requiring other documents to prove her work authorization, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The department’s investigation began after a naturalized U.S. citizen filed a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division against Tecon. Based on its investigation, the department concluded that while verifying the worker’s legal right to work in the United States, Tecon refused to accept her U.S. passport and demanded additional and unnecessary documents, because of the worker’s Venezuelan national origin.

“Companies cannot reject valid identity and work authorization documents because of an individual’s national origin,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement makes clear that the Justice Department will vigorously enforce federal civil rights laws to protect workers from illegal discrimination.”

The INA prohibits employers from rejecting documents that reasonably appear genuine or requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization, based on workers’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the terms of the settlement, Tecon will pay a $1,542 civil penalty to the United States and $4,263.75 back pay and interest to the affected worker. Tecon will also revise its policies and procedures, ensure that relevant employees participate in training on anti-discrimination requirements under the INA, and be subject to departmental monitoring over the term of the agreement.  

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. The statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status and national origin in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.