Denial of Motion to Dismiss Discrimination Lawsuit Reasserts Critical Law on Cusp of Announcement of Affirmative Immigration Relief

NEW YORK CITY, NY - On the cusp of a critical presidential announcement of broadened affirmative relief for immigrants currently unprotected by law, an important decision emanated from federal court last week. Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company's motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the company's policy of denying employment to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. MALDEF and co-counsel Outten & Golden LLP represent the plaintiff, Ruben Juarez, who was unlawfully rejected for a position at Northwestern Mutual under a policy that denies employment to all persons who are not either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

"Work authorization is work authorization, and discrimination is discrimination," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "Employers cannot pick and choose among applicants based on their views or perceptions of particular federal immigration programs."

Ruben Juarez obtained DACA status and work authorization in October of 2012. Following an interview with Northwestern Mutual in December 2012, Juarez was informed that he could not work for the firm unless he was a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, despite his legal authorization to work in the U.S. Last week, Judge Forrest rejected Northwestern Mutual's motion to dismiss the lawsuit challenging its discriminatory employment practice, holding that 42 U.S. Code 1981 protects against discrimination that targets a subset of work-authorized non-citizens, even if some immigrants, such as green card holders, are eligible for employment. The ruling is a strong warning to any employer that might consider excluding DACA holders or recipients of work authorization under any soon-to-be-announced program of affirmative immigration relief.

Adam T. Klein, of Outten & Golden, said, "We are pleased to be proceed with this important case. The court's ruling will move us forward in the fight to ensure that extraordinary employment prospects like Ruben Juarez will not be held back by hiring policies and human resource personnel that do not comply with federal law."

The court's decision can be seen here. MALDEF welcomes this decision and will continue to work to ensure protection of all individuals seeking employment.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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