Department of Justice Settles With IT Consulting Firm Over Employment Eligibility Related Discrimination

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that it has reached a settlement with a California-based IT consulting provider regarding discrimination in its employment eligibility verification procedures. According to the DOJ’s allegations, the company discriminated against a non-US citizen worker by requesting unnecessary additional documentation to prove his employment authorization due to his citizenship status.

After an employee has presented suitable documentation to establish their permission to work in the U.S., an employer is prohibited under the law from requesting further documentation. According to the DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, “The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring all workers have the right to prove their permission to work free from unlawful discrimination.” According to the DOJ’s investigation, the company discriminated against a worker by requesting additional documents to prove his authorization to work despite the worker having already provided sufficient documentation for his current status. The DOJ’s investigation further discovered that the reason for the violation was caused in part by the company’s lack of understanding of its current software, which is used to complete the employment verification process. The company’s lack of understanding led to them believing that additional documentation was required from non-U.S. citizens.

The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provisions provide workers extensive protection against discrimination on the basis of citizenship and immigration status as well as national origin. This statute forbids employers from requesting documentation in addition to the minimum necessary to ascertain employees’ work authorization status as well as from requesting specific documentation due to an employee’s immigration or citizenship status and their place of origin. Employees should be allowed to present whatever documentation they choose, and so long as it appears to be genuine, it should be accepted. The INA’s anti-discrimination provisions are enforced by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER).

The settlement between the DOJ and the employer will require the employer to pay a $1,756 civil penalty as well as to provide its relevant staff members with the INA’s requirements on preventing discrimination. The company will also be subject to monitoring and be required to adhere to additional reporting requirements.

As this case demonstrates, completing the employment eligibility process and complying with the requirements can be confusing. It is easy to make costly mistakes due to personnel not understanding the requirements. However, these problems can be avoided with an electronic I-9 management tool. This can guide employers through the employment verification process and ensure hiring personnel know which documents are suitable to prove work authorization and safely store the documents for easy retrieval when needed.

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