Department of Justice Settles Employment Eligibility Verification Discrimination Case

Department of Justice Settles Employment Eligibility Verification Discrimination Case
August 11, 2023

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement agreement with a corporate group of three distinct entities in the glass manufacturing and distribution sectors. This agreement addresses allegations of discrimination in verifying employees’ US work permissions. As a result, the DOJ found that the employer had requested unnecessary documentation during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process.

According to the Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, “Requiring workers to provide specific or unnecessary documents to prove their permission to work creates an unlawful barrier to employment for people who are eager to begin working and providing for themselves and their families. The Justice Department will not stand for unlawful discrimination and will continue to ensure that employees have equal opportunity in the hiring process and in the workplace.”

The DOJ revealed that the employer unlawfully requested permanent residents to provide a List A document as verification to work in the United States. This offense continued from March 1, 2018, to September 16, 2020. According to the reports, the employer violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The employer violated 8 USC § 1324b(a)(6), which prohibits basing hiring decisions on immigration or citizenship status.

Employers must verify their new hires’ permission to work in the U.S. within the first three business days after hire. However, the INA prohibits employers from demanding specific or additional documentation. Employers cannot request information based on citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. Instead, they must let workers choose any combination of acceptable documentation from Lists A, B, or C.

Non-U.S. citizen workers can often access the same documentation as U.S. citizens. The DOJ quoted driver’s licenses and Social Security cards as examples. Employers must accept whatever documentation workers present if it appears facially genuine and meets the requirements of Form I-9.

Under this settlement agreement, the employer must pay $120,000 in civil penalties and update its policies to comply with the INA. The employer must also provide additional training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provisions and be subject to additional departmental monitoring.

As this settlement shows, Form I-9 compliance should never be an afterthought. Employers should prioritize compliance with the INA throughout the employment eligibility process. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating an electronic I-9 management system into the onboarding process. This system ensures compliance by providing instructions and simple-to-use electronic storage for forms and documentation.

Automate your employment eligibility verification today with the ensured compliance of I-9 Compliance.