LOS ANGELES – A New Jersey financial services firm illegally denied a qualified applicant a job as an independent financial advisor because of his immigration status, a class-action lawsuit filed this week in federal court alleges.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and the law firm Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC of Newark, N.J., sued Allied Wealth Partners, a New Jersey company with 115 employees and nine offices in the New York/New Jersey area, on behalf of Daniel Marques, a 27-year-old native of Brazil who is a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, was brought against Allied Wealth for violations of federal law that prohibits discrimination based on alienage.
“In a full-employment economy, irrational discrimination against qualified immigrants is not only unlawful but a blow to the company’s own interests and to the entire economy,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “DACA holders are prepared and committed to make significant economic contributions to our nation, and their efforts should not be blocked by irrational and discriminatory policies.”
The complaint states that Marques applied through an online job search platform for a position as an independent financial advisor with the company in March 2016. Allied Wealth Partners invited him to one of its New Jersey offices for an in-person interview and scheduled a follow-up interview, but ended the hiring process when Marques disclosed that he is a DACA holder with federal work authorization, which is effective for a limited period but eligible for renewal.
The company’s managing director explained to Marques that the decision was based on the company’s policy that it would not hire individuals with work authorization cards with a future expiration date, and that there was no guarantee that Marques’s DACA status would be renewed, according to the lawsuit.
“Immigrants with federal work authorization should be free from discrimination from would-be employers,” said Burth Lopez, MALDEF staff attorney and counsel in the case. “Mr. Marques looks forward to vindicating this right in court and to removing barriers to economic participation for immigrants like himself.”
Intentional discrimination based on alienage is unlawful under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1866. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of all non-citizens who were legally authorized to work in the United States but were denied employment by Allied Wealth Partners on or after April 6, 2016, when Marques’s application was rejected.
While Marques is a DACA holder, the lawsuit defends the interests of all non-citizens who were harmed by Allied Wealth Partners’ policy and/or practice that discriminates on the basis of alienage; those potentially affected include refugees, asylees, and visa holders who are legally authorized to work in the United States, as well as other holders of deferred action, including crime victims and survivors of severe forms of trafficking.
In addition to class-action status, the lawsuit seeks back pay and damages for affected class members, injunctions prohibiting discriminatory hiring policies, and legal fees.
The case is Daniel Marques v. LPD Enterprises, LLC (dba Allied Wealth Partners), Case No. 2:18-CV-05589, in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.