US & World

Justice Dept. reaches settlement with Panda Express over 'discriminatory practices'

EL PASO, Texas - The Justice Department announced Wednesday it reached a settlement agreement with the Panda Express Group, Inc over accusations it discriminated against non-US citizens.

The restaurant chain, with more than 1,800 locations around the United States, is accused of violating the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when re-verifying permission to work in the US.

The Chinese food chain is accused of requiring non-U.S. Citizens to reverify ongoing work authorization when their permanent resident cards expired, despite evidence showing they had already provided sufficient documentation.

Panda Express will have to pay a civil penalty of $400,000 to the United States, and also establish a $200,000 pay back fund to compensate workers who lost wages due to its practices.

The restaurant chain was also ordered to train its human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA's anti-discrimination provision.

Assistant Attorney General, Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division says, "employers should ensure that their reverification practices comply with laws that protect workers against discrimination."

Work Authorized, non-U.S. Citizens who lost work at Panda Express due to the documentary practices, between May 31, 2014, and June 28, 2017, may be eligible for pay back wages they would have earned.

Applicants or workers who believe they were subjected to different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin;  or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral, should contact IER's worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515)

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