Macy's Pays $275,000 To Settle Federal Discrimination Case

In a case involving Macy's (NYSE:M) demanding that non-U.S.-born employees sought excessive employment eligibility reverification documentation, the chain has agreed to pay a federal civil penalty of $175,000 plus to set aside an additional $100,000 "to compensate any individuals who suffered lost wages or loss of seniority as a result of its practices," according to a U.S. Justice Department statement.

Macy's also agreed to change how it handles employment eligibility reverification policies and procedures and to enhance its HR training so that HR people would be more familiar with current federal anti-discrimination rules.

Justice did not release documents detailing what they have accused Macy's of doing, only saying that an investigation found that "Macy's engaged in unfair documentary practices against work-authorized immigrant employees during the employment eligibility reverification process and that some employees suffered economic harm through lost work or seniority as a result. The (Immigration and Nationality Act)'s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from treating workers differently in the employment eligibility verification or reverification process by demanding more or different documents, or by limiting the worker's choice of documents, based on an individual's immigration status or national origin."

The typical reason for a reverification is when the documents used by an employee to prove that he/she is eligible to work have an expiration date and indicate only temporary authorization to work, the company needs to ask for new documents when the old ones expire. Retailers can sometimes get in trouble if they only try and reverify a select group of employees, especially if the people selected all share the same national origin or or immigration/citizenship status.

Like any other area of federal law—and, for that matter, HR policies in general—selective application of a rule is generally an invitation for trouble.

For more:
- See this Reuters story
- See this Chain Store Age story
- See the U.S. Justice Department statement

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