$5M Settlement Emphasizes Importance of Stopping Immigrant Discrimination By Dan Atkerson on January 04, 2016

Group of Multiethnic Diverse Business PeopleBack in 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its Strategic Enforcement Plan for the coming years. The agency named six enforcement priorities:

  • Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring
  • Addressing Emerging and Developing Issues
  • Enforcing Equal Pay Laws
  • Preserving Access to the Legal System
  • Preventing Harassment Through Systemic Enforcement and Targeted Outreach
  • Protecting Immigrant, Migrant, and Other Vulnerable Workers
Although there is no real hierarchy to these priorities, protecting immigrants is often allowed to slip between the cracks.

Enforcing Protections for Immigrant Workers

The EEOC is specifically targeting unequal pay, job segregation, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and trafficking as it pertains to immigrant workers in America. It is not uncommon for migrant employees to be unaware of their rights, making it easier for employers to take advantage of them. In other cases, immigrants may be reluctant to bring a complaint forward for fear of workplace retaliation.

A recent court victory should go a long way towards promoting equality and security for immigrant employees. The EEOC accused a ship building company of hiring immigrant workers, then subjecting them to “a pattern or practice of race and national origin discrimination, including unfavorable working conditions and forcing the men to pay $1,050 a month to live in overcrowded, unsanitary, guarded camps.”

The company allegedly forced foreign workers, primarily from India, to live in cramped shipping containers with as many as 24 others. The company agreed to a settlement of $5 million.

What Can I Do to Stop Immigrant Discrimination or Harassment?

Employers that habitually discriminate based on national origin or harass workers from another country typically do not stop or change their behavior until they are stood up to. The best solution to immigrant discrimination or harassment is to contact an employment lawyer and file a complaint against the offender.

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