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Northwestern Mutual DACA Employment Discrimination

On November 14, 2014, Judge Forrest denied Northwestern Mutual’s motion to dismiss and allowed the case to proceed, concluding that Mr. Juarez had stated a plausible claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 because Northwestern Mutual had denied him the ability to contract for a financial representative internship on the same terms and conditions as U.S. citizens. Specifically, the Court found that Northwestern Mutual’s policy of requiring Mr. Juarez to demonstrate he had a “green card” because he was not a U.S. citizen imposed an additional burden on him in violation of the statute.

On July 9, 2014, Outten & Golden LLP, together with our co-counsel the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (“MALDEF”), filed a class action complaint in New York federal court against Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. on behalf of Ruben Juarez, a 25-year-old honors college graduate. The lawsuit accuses Northwestern Mutual, the nation’s largest direct life insurance provider, of discriminating against qualified non-U.S. citizen job candidates without permanent resident visas. Northwestern Mutual blocked Juarez, who has a valid work permit and Social Security number through the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (“DACA”), from obtaining a financial representative internship. Juarez alleges a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, one of the oldest federal civil rights statutes, which protects anyone within the jurisdiction of the United States from interference from employers like Northwestern Mutual in the making or enforcement of contracts on the basis of citizenship and residency status.

The case is pending before Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York. According to the complaint, Northwestern Mutual advertises its discriminatory policy on its website. The policy requires prospective applicants to be U.S. citizens or have permanent resident status (i.e., a “green card”). This policy discriminates not only against those with DACA status like Juarez, but those granted asylee, refugee, or temporary status who are also authorized to work. This lawsuit seeks an end to this practice.

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(Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)

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