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D'Amico & Partners fired 15 veteran Hispanic workers at the close of business yesterday after they failed to resolve questions about the validity of their social security numbers. The workers have filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that they're being targeted for discriminatory treatment. The Minneapolis-based chain operates such high-end eateries as Masa and Campiello, along with numerous D'Amico & Sons restaurants.

D'Amico & Partners received "no match" letters from the Social Security Administration for each of the impacted employees indicating that there is an issue with their documentation. The employees had until Monday to resolve the problem with the federal agency. When they failed to do so, all 15 were terminated.

The Hispanic employees, however, believe they're being unfairly singled out. "D'Amico & Partners is not requiring re-verification from any non-Latino employees," they wrote to the EEOC. "D'Amico & Partners is reaching the conclusion that we are undocumented because we are Latino."

Amy Rotenberg, as spokeswoman for D'Amico, says the company would face the possibility of fines and other punishment if it doesn't resolve the social security issues. "We are sadly in a situation where we have to comply with federal law," she says. "We're really between a rock and a hard place."

Rotenberg further notes that D'Amico put the workers on notice last September that they needed to address the problem, but that none have even started the process. The company will leave their jobs open until the end of the month in case the matter is resolved. The workers met with company co-owner Larry D'Amico yesterday afternoon in a last ditch effort to salvage their jobs, but without success.

According to Veronica Mendez, an organizer with the Workers Interfaith Network, the impacted employees are not ruling out a lawsuit. "If necessary the workers are willing and ready to do that," she says.