The Justice Department announced today that it has secured a settlement agreement with Walter J. Willoughby Jr., M.D., Ltd. (Willoughby Ltd.), a medical practice located in Las Vegas, Nevada. The settlement resolves the department’s determination that Willoughby Ltd. violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by terminating a longstanding employee based on her Mexican-American national origin.  

“Firing an employee because of her national origin runs counter to our nation’s ideals,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “All workers have a right to be treated fairly by their employers. The Civil Rights Division is committed to addressing unlawful discrimination in all types of workplaces.”

The department’s investigation determined that Willoughby Ltd. unlawfully fired a high-performing Mexican-American employee based on her coworkers’ discriminatory bias. Specifically, after subjecting the employee to months of derogatory comments and jokes based on her Mexican heritage, the coworkers fabricated a false accusation against the employee that played into national origin stereotypes to oust her from the workplace. In March 2020, the medical practice credited the coworkers’ accusations without investigating them and agreed to terminate the employee on that basis. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers with four to fourteen employees from terminating workers based on their national origin. Employers with fifteen or more employees are prohibited from engaging in such discrimination by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under the settlement, Willoughby Ltd. will pay a civil penalty to the United States and $42,500 to the affected worker. Willoughby Ltd. also must train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements, revise its employment policies, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. 

The Civil Rights 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 discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation. 

Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. Find more information on how employers can avoid unlawful discrimination on IER’s website. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public can also call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email IER@usdoj.gov; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

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