Texas fast-food employees may be interested to learn that Panda Express has agreed to settle a claim that the chain discriminated against workers who were not American citizens. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the chain required legal permanent U.S. residents to reverify their work authorization after their original documents expired, even though other workers were not required to do this. Additionally, non-citizens were required to show immigration documents a second time to show they could legally work.
Employers cannot legally ask for documentation of this kind under the Immigration and Nationality Act if the need for these documents is based on the worker's national origin or citizenship status. As such, employers should ensure that their practices comply with federal laws.
The chain will ultimately pay a $400,000 fine and pay $200,000 to affected workers through the creation of a fund. In a statement, Panda Express said that it did not believe that it discriminated against workers or had intentions of discriminating against workers. The California-based chain reportedly has more than 300,000 workers employed at more than 1,900 stores.
Employment discrimination can prevent workers from being able to find jobs or be productive at their workplaces. If employers are discriminating against a worker's race or nationality, the employer may be violating the law, potentially allowing affected employees to potentially seek compensation for a loss of income. An employment rights attorney may represent an employee who has been discriminated against by his or her employer. Generally, the attorney may attempt to negotiate with the employer out of court, though the attorney may take the case to trial if negotiations fail.
Source: USA Today, "Panda Express settles discrimination case", Zlati Meyer, June 29, 2017