The Department of Justice has recently announced that a settlement has been reached on claims raised against an Indiana-based staffing company with multiple locations within the state. The settlement will resolve claims that the company discriminated against multiple non-U.S. citizens due to their citizenship status by asking them to present specific work authorization documents in addition to the acceptable documentation they had already provided.
Though newly hired workers must present valid documentation that proves their permission to work in the United States in order to complete the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, an employer must accept any valid documentation that a worker chooses to provide. Employers must not request specific or additional documentation or reject valid documentation that a worker provides. According to the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, “All workers have the right to choose the valid documents they want to present for that process. The Justice Department will continue to fight to remove unlawful barriers in the workplace.”
These laws are provided in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which prohibits employers from rejecting any documentation so long as it is related to the individual presenting it and appears valid and, more generally, forbids discrimination on the basis of citizenship status and national origin. These rules are enforced by the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
The DOJ’s investigation of the staffing company found that it had rejected a non-U.S. citizen’s valid documentation that she had provided as proof of work authorization and had further requested specific immigration documents. This included requesting an unexpired Permanent Resident Card. The investigation also found that on at least two other occasions, the employer had requested Permanent Resident Cards from employees in order to prove their work authorization.
The settlement agreement between the DOJ and the staffing company provides for a civil penalty, as well as additional training for staff and posting of notices to inform workers of their rights under the INA. The company will also be subject to additional monitoring by the DOJ for a period of three years.
As this case shows, completing Form I-9 can be a difficult process that can result in difficulty complying with federal requirements for many employers. With frequently changing rules and complex documentation requirements, it can be challenging to ensure compliance which can result in costly litigation. The best way to avoid this is to invest in an I-9 management system that can guide hiring personnel through every step of the process, ensuring uniform completion and secure storage of paperwork and documentation.
Our I-9 Compliance tool will help quickly and reliably verify your employment eligibility automatically. Find out more today.