The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with one of the world’s largest technology companies over violations of how it confirmed candidates’ employment eligibility. The DOJ had alleged that the employer had discriminated against non-U.S. citizens by requesting unnecessary and specific documents to prove their employment eligibility without needing the company to sponsor them for work visas. This settlement agreement will additionally resolve allegations that the company would discriminate against permanent residents by requesting alternative or additional documents beyond those legally required in order to reverify their continuing employment eligibility.
The DOJ’s investigation of this matter began in response to a complaint by the spouse of a candidate for a position with the employer. The spouse called the agency’s hotline and reported that her husband had been asked for a permanent resident card while applying for a position. The resulting investigation found that the employer had repeatedly asked lawful permanent residents as well as refugees and asylum seekers to take part in an evaluation to determine whether or not they needed the employer to sponsor them for work visas. The investigation also resulted in a discovery that the employer would regularly send emails to lawful permanent resident employees asking them to submit proof of continued work authorization despite having already provided proof of permanent work authorization.
These types of practices are forbidden by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which does require employers to collect proof of and verify their workers’ authorization to work in the U.S. However, this law also prohibits employers from requesting any more documents than are required for verification as well as requesting specific documents, or in any way restricting the types of documentation which a worker is allowed to present in order to prove their authorization to work in the U.S.
As a result of this settlement, the employer will be required to update its hiring process in order to ensure that non-U.S. citizen applicants, including lawful permanency residents, are not asked for specific documents in order to verify that they will not require sponsorship for an employment-based visa. Additionally, the employer will be required to cease sending workers that are not in need of reverification emails that request additional documents to reverify work authorization and to permit employees who do need to reverify their employment with their choice of documents.
Finally, the employer will be required to pay civil penalties to the U.S. and provide their employees that are responsible for compliance with employment eligibility requirements with training to avoid inappropriately verifying and reverifying a worker’s eligibility. The employer will also be subject to additional monitoring and reporting requirements as well.
As this case shows, even the largest and most modern companies are capable of failing to maintain compliance with Form I-9 requirements. This is certainly not unusual as this can be an extremely complex process subject to countless individual situations that make it different for every worker. However, an electronic I-9 management tool can help by guiding personnel responsible for complying with verification requirements every step of the way to ensure it is completed correctly every time.