Hispanic Scholar Files Discrimination Claim Against Northwestern Mutual
Employing the rarely used Civil Rights Act of 1866 as its basis, a Mexican-born college honors graduate claims in a putative class action against Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. that the insurer engaged in alienage discrimination when it rejected him for a job even though he has legal status to work in the United States.
Ruben Juarez, 25, who graduated summa cum laude with an accounting degree from the City University of New York and has been accepted to pursue a master’s degree at Fordham University, contends a Northwestern Mutual recruiter expressed interest in hiring him until she learned he was neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident.
But Juarez possesses another form of legal U.S. work authorization, one granted him by the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order, issued by President Barack Obama to grant temporary permission for undocumented youths who came to the U.S. as children to stay and work for at least two years. The “deferred action” status can be extended for another two years after that. Juarez and others who qualify are given a Social Security number and work permit.
Northwestern Mutual’s refusal to employ anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or who does not have a “green card” violates the Civil War era act, as codified by 42 U.S.C. § 1981, that bars discrimination on the basis of alienage, argues the complaint in Juarez v. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., filed on July 9 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The act, as resurrected and broadened in 1968 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Mayer, guarantees the right to enter into contracts free of bias “to persons in the United States,” according to this argument.
As of early February, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had approved more than 500,000 DACA requests.
Juarez’ suit seeks back pay and damages, injunctive relief, and a declaratory judgment that Northwestern Mutual’s hiring practices are unlawful.
Plaintiffs are represented by Adam Klein, Ossai Miazad, Lewis Steel and Michael Litrownik, of Outten & Golden LLP, and by Thomas Saenz, Victor Viramontes and Maribel Hernandez Rivera, of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Lisa Hoffman contributes to law.com.
Companies, agencies mentioned: 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals | US District Court | U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services | Fordham University | The City University of New York | The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company | Supreme Court of the United States