WASHINGTON, D.C. (KAUZ) - The Justice Department has reached a settlement agreement with Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. also known as Panda Express regarding an immigration-related discrimination claim against the restaurant chain.
The agreement resolves the department's investigation into whether Panda Express discriminated against non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when reverifying their permission to work.
The Justice Department's investigation concluded that Panda Express unnecessarily required lawful permanent resident workers to re-establish their work authorization when their Permanent Resident Cards expired.
Similar requests were not asked of U.S. citizen workers when their documents expired.
The investigation also brought to light that Panda Express routinely required other non-U.S. citizen workers to produce immigration documents to reverify their ongoing work authorization despite evidence they had already provided sufficient documentation.
Under the settlement, Panda Express will pay a civil penalty of $400,000 to the United States, establish a $200,000 back pay fund to compensate workers who lost wages due to the company's practices, train its human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA's anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to department monitoring and reporting requirements.
Work-authorized, non-U.S. citizens who lost work at Panda Express between May 31, 2014, and June 28, 2017, due to Panda Express' documentary practices may be eligible for back pay for the wages they would have earned. For more information, email IER.PEclaims@usdoj.gov.