The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that it has settled with a major Washington-based firearms manufacturer. This settlement addresses allegations that the company had committed immigration-related discrimination during its hiring process. According to the DOJ, the company had a policy that unlawfully excluded certain non-US citizens from positions.
The Justice Department found that the company would screen out non-citizen job candidates, including refugees and asylees, from various positions. However, regulations permit such individuals the same access to sensitive information as US citizens. Therefore, this screening violates the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This act prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin, amongst other requirements.
Like US citizen applicants, asylees and refugees may qualify contingent on a background check if an employer requires one. However, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) neither authorizes nor restricts employers from excluding refugees and asylees from consideration for employment. Instead, the ITAR provides specific requirements related to hiring and governs the exports of various defense articles and services.
Under ITAR, certain positions with access to sensitive information are limited to “US persons” unless specifically authorized by the State Department. However, “US persons” include US citizens, asylees, refugees, lawful permanent residents, and US nationals. As a result, failing to consider US nationals, refugees, and asylees equally for such positions places an unnecessary restriction in violation of the INA.
According to Kristen Clarke, the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, “Asylees and refugees in the United States are authorized to work and are entitled to fair access to employment opportunities. The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that all employers, regardless of their industry, have a fair hiring process that does not subject workers to unlawful discrimination.”
The DOJ’s investigation found that, between April 2020 and September 2020, the company had routinely enforced a policy that screened out qualified candidates. Specifically, they excluded non-US citizens and lawful permanent residents from employment opportunities. Now, the DOJ and this employer have settled this immigration-related case.
According to the settlement, the company must provide its staff with additional training regarding the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA. In addition, the company must review and modify its policies to comply with applicable laws. Finally, the company must adhere to continued monitoring and reporting requirements.
As this settlement shows, maintaining compliance with the employment eligibility requirements can be challenging, especially the Form I-9. From the documentation an employee can provide to the regular re-verification process for certain employees, there is a high potential for noncompliance resulting in severe penalties.
One of the best ways to ensure compliance is with an electronic Form I-9 management system. This system can guide employers through the process, provide helpful reminders, and securely store forms and documentation.
When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.