Appeal Before Fourth Circuit Attempts to Revive Work Authorization Discrimination Suit

Work authorization discrimination suit reaches fourth circuit
November 7, 2022

A recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has urged the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to revive his work authorization discrimination lawsuit against a major energy company. The plaintiff argues that the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County strengthens his discrimination claim based on his immigration and citizenship status.

According to the plaintiff’s counsel, the test the Supreme Court used in Bostock v. Clayton County should apply in his case. It would determine whether the defendant’s decision to rescind its offer of employment directly connects to the plaintiff’s citizenship status.

This claim arises from the plaintiff’s attempt to gain an internship with the employer while attending college in 2019. The plaintiff stated in his application that he held authorization to work in the US and citizenship in Mexico. The employer initially made an offer of employment to the plaintiff. However, they rescinded after the plaintiff provided his work authorization documents.

The plaintiff claimed the letter rescinding the offer stated he needed a permanent or indefinite right to work in the US. More specifically, it required a protected status, such as US citizen, lawful permanent resident, or another based on the Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA). Furthermore, after reviewing his documentation, which showed his DACA status, the employer decided he did not hold a protected class.

As a result, the plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit claiming discrimination against himself and others based on their alienage. However, the US District Court dismissed this case in 2021, finding that alienage is a different category from immigration status.

Appealing the ruling, the plaintiff recently argued that the same test that the Supreme Court applied in Bostock should apply in this case. In the Bostock case, the Court found that sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes discrimination against LGBT individuals because it inherently involves discrimination based on sex.

Similarly, the plaintiff argues that work authorization and immigration status inextricably applied under the same logic. Therefore, Section 1981 meant non-citizens faced discrimination for similar reasons.

However, the defendant’s counsel argued that the case’s circumstances differ significantly from those in Bostock. Specifically, the council claimed that described traits required implication of a protected basis, such as in Bostock. The present case, which the plaintiff argued, lacked such implication.

Currently, the case still awaits a decision by the Fourth Circuit. As this case shows, employers must apply caution when completing the employment authorization process (Form I-9). The best means to ensure a uniform and accurate completion is with an electronic I-9 management system. This system can guide employers through the process while providing safe and convenient storage of forms and documentation.

Interested in automating your employment eligibility verification? Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.