Bank of America is being sued for allegedly refusing to hire a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the law firm Elliot Morgan Parsonage, PLLC of Winston-Salem, N.C., filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western and Northern District of North Carolina on Thursday on behalf of Brazil native Daniel Marques.
Marques, 27, is recipient of the Obama-era program the Trump administration is trying to end.
Though authorized to work in the U.S., MALDEF alleges Marques was disqualified from being considered for a job with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, a division of Bank of America, after he informed the company of his DACA status.
During a phone interview, MALDEF says Bank of America’s vice president and executive recruiter for the mid-Atlantic market told Marques he was required to be eligible to work in the U.S. “without limitations.”
The 15-page complaint accuses Bank of America of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits intentional discrimination based on alienage.
“Any company, like Bank of America, with a significant Latino customer base and that seeks to build further business with the growing Latino community, would do well to avoid policies or practices that discriminate, irrationally, on the basis of immigration status,” Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF’s president and general counsel, said in a statement.
The group is asking the court to grant its request for class-action status on behalf of all noncitizens who were authorized to work in the U.S. and denied employment by Bank of America after April 4, 2016, because of their immigration status.
In a statement, Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin said the bank does not have any prohibition on hiring individuals with DACA status.
"We will review this particular situation," he said.
The Trump administration announced in September it was ending the DACA program, which allows young people who were brought to the country illegally as children to live and work in the U.S.
The policy change was quickly challenged in courts across the country and put on hold. Federal district court judges in the District of Columbia, California and New York have ruled the administration must keep the program in place.
This story was updated at 4:01 p.m.