The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement agreement with a New York-based operator of bakeries and retail boutiques and its West Coast affiliate that together made and sold confectionaries. This settlement addressed discrimination claims in their employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9). In addition, it resolves the department’s allegations that the companies violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in completing Form I-9.
The DOJ’s investigation of the matter began in response to complaints from a non-US citizen. He claimed the companies rejected his valid documentation that proved his eligibility to work in the US. Furthermore, the companies requested additional documentation not customarily required to verify his employment eligibility. The DOJ found that, since January 2020, the company had discriminated against non-US citizens by demanding other documentation to prove work authorization.
Most notably, the DOJ alleged that the company demanded that lawful permanent residents provide green cards as proof of work authorization. The company required these green cards instead of allowing the lawful permanent residents to choose documentations that US citizens could provide. Under the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA, employers cannot request unnecessary documentation to verify employment eligibility due to an individual’s citizenship or immigration status and national origin.
Instead, employers must permit all workers to present valid, legal documentation to prove their identity and permission to work in the US. This requirement stands regardless of their national origin, citizenship, or immigration status. In addition, employers should accept any qualifying combination of documentation that an employee provides so long as they appear facially valid.
In many cases, non-citizens, lawful permanent residents, and others may obtain many types of documentation that US citizens can to verify their employment eligibility. Such documents include driver’s licenses and unrestricted Social Security cards. In addition, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division enforces the INA’s anti-discrimination provisions, addressing violations as they arise.
In this case, the company must pay civil penalties, update its policies, and train its staff on the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA. In addition, the DOJ will subject the company to additional monitoring for the following two years.
As this case clearly illustrates, the Form I-9 process can be fraught with liabilities and confusing when hiring personnel. One of the best ways to help ensure compliance with ever-shifting laws and regulations is to invest in an electronic Form I-9 management system. This system can guide personnel through completing the employment eligibility verification process. In addition, it offers helpful reminders and secure storage of forms and documentation.
Streamline your hiring process with an automated employment eligibility verification and ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.