Salt Lake City, Utah - The Justice Department Thursday announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Mrs. Fields’ Original Cookies Inc. (Mrs. Fields), headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado. Mrs. Fields’ brands produce, distribute, and sell specialty items, including cookies, brownies, and chocolates. The settlement resolves a claim that Mrs. Fields’ production and distribution center located in Salt Lake City, violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization.
The Department’s independent investigation concluded that, from at least March 21, 2016, to March 20, 2017, Mrs. Fields required lawful permanent residents to provide specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove their work authorization, while not imposing this requirement on U.S. citizens. All work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, have the right to choose which document to present, from a range of valid documents, to demonstrate their authority to work in the United States. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin.
“Workers should not have to face discrimination because of citizenship status or national origin in the employment eligibility verification process,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that Mrs. Fields has agreed to work with the Division and ensure that its staff is trained on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, and we look forward to working with the company to reach this shared goal.”
Under the settlement, Mrs. Fields will pay $26,400 in civil penalties to the United States and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. In addition, certain employees will be required to attend training on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.
The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.