WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced June 28 that Panda Restaurant Group Inc. (Panda Express), a restaurant chain with more than 1,800 locations across the country, will settle allegations of discriminating against non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when re-verifying their permission to work.
According to allegations, Panda Express required lawful permanent resident workers to re-establish their work authorization when their Permanent Resident Cards expired. The department deemed this requirement unnecessary, and deemed it discriminatory since the company did not make similar requests to U.S. citizen workers when their documents expired.
To settle the allegations, Panda Express will pay $400,000 in civil penalties, establish a $200,000 back pay fund to compensate workers for its business practices, and train workers in human resources on the INA.
“Employers should ensure that their re-verification practices comply with laws that protect workers against discrimination,” said acting assistant attorney general Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department applauds Panda Express for its cooperation during this investigation and its commitment to compensating workers who may have lost wages due to its documentary practices.”