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BigLaw Firm to Pay Civil Penalty Over Discrimination Claim
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The BigLaw firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and Washington D.C. based legal staffing company Law Resources will pay a civil penalty of $56,500 to settle discrimination claims based on citizenship status, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The settlement will resolve claims that the legal staffing company Law Resources instructed by Arnold & Porter refused to hire U.S. citizens with dual citizenship and non-U.S. citizens with work authorization, therefore violating the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“The United States of America is the land of opportunity, and the United States government remains committed fully to the fundamental principle that in this country, all people authorized by law to work should be able to pursue happiness by earning a living without suffering the indignity of discrimination because of where they came from,” assistant attorney general Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “Our law protects this ideal in many ways, including by prohibiting unlawful citizenship status restrictions in hiring.”

  
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The claims were originated by Washington D.C. lawyer Temitope Ogunrinu, a U.S. citizen with dual citizenship, who initially filed a charge against Law Resources with the Immigrant and employee rights section of the Department of Justice in November 2018, and later updated the matter to include Arnold & Porter.

A Department of Justice investigation disclosed that the staffing company along with the BigLaw firm enforced a policy of excluding non-citizens with authorization to work in the U.S as well as dual citizens. The investigation also found that the firm improperly interpreted the requirements of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and that Law Resources countered against Ogunrinu, blacklisting her from future assignments after she objected to the restriction.

“This case involves a single incident where the firm mistakenly provided a third-party vendor inaccurate information about the criteria for selecting contractors for a document review,” the firm said in a statement. “As soon as this inadvertent mistake was brought to our attention, the Firm took steps to prevent it from happening again. Additionally, we cooperated fully with the IER in resolving the matter.”

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Arnold & Porter and Law Resources will train relevant employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, jointly offer a $55,000 back-pay fund to other affected workers, and face departmental monitoring for two years.

The staffing company will pay an additional civil penalty of $3,000 and offer Ogunrinu $11,875 in back pay to resolve the retaliation claim.



“We look forward to working with Law Resources and Arnold & Porter to ensure their hiring procedures fully comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act’s prohibition against citizenship status discrimination in employment,” Dreiband said.



 

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