The Denver Sheriff’s Department is paying a $10,000 fine because it only hired U.S. citizens

The Department of Justice found that the Denver Sheriff’s Department discriminated against immigrants who are authorized to work here.
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A Denver Sheriff’s Department prisoner transport bus. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Department of Justice announced Monday that it has reached a settlement with the Denver Sheriff's Department over claims the local department discriminated against immigrants with authorization to work.

The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits employers from limiting jobs to U.S. citizens unless there is an additional legal requirement that a worker be a U.S. citizen. Sheriff's deputies don't have to be U.S. citizens. However, from Jan. 1, 2015, to March 23, 2016, the Denver Sheriff's Department published job postings that stated deputies had to be citizens and did not make offers to applicants who were not citizens.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Denver Sheriff's Department will pay $10,000 in civil penalties. The department must also go through old applications to identify people who should have been considered but were improperly rejected and train its human resources staff in the law's anti-discrimination components.

"We commend the Denver Sheriff Department for its cooperation and commitment to removing unnecessary and unlawful employment barriers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a press release announcing the settlement. "Eliminating this unlawful citizenship requirement will help ensure that the Denver Sheriff Department hires the best and most qualified individuals to protect and serve. The entire community will benefit from these reforms."

In an email, Sheriff's Department spokesman Simon Crittle said the department did not discriminate on purpose.

"The Denver Sheriff Department maintains its commitment to treat all people with dignity and respect, and is proud to have one of the most diverse workplaces in Colorado," he wrote. "While we didn’t commit this violation intentionally, we accept responsibility and are taking steps to clarify policy and amend language in hiring documents."

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