DOJ Reaches $350,000 Settlement With Minnesota Staffing Company Over Form I-9 Violations

DOJ reaches settlement over Form I-9 violations
January 25, 2023

A Minnesota staffing company has reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ). This agreement settles claims regarding how the company routinely violated Form I-9 requirements. In addition, it resolves the DOJ’s claims that the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) employment eligibility verification provisions (Form I-9). According to the DOJ, the staffing company discriminated against workers based on their citizenship or immigration status.

Furthermore, the employer regularly required new hires to supply more, different, or specific documentation to complete Form I-9. In particular, it found that the employer habitually requested lawful permanent residents to provide permanent resident cards (green cards) to prove their authorization to work in the United States.

The DOJ’s investigation also found that the company required lawful permanent residents to reverify their employment authorization despite this step proving unnecessary. In addition, it had other non-citizens provide their employment authorization documents for the same purpose. This unlawful practice resulted in at least one worker, an asylee, losing employment.

Under the INA, employers cannot demand specific documentation due to an employee’s national origin, citizenship status, or immigration status. However, employers must allow employees to submit legally acceptable documentation to satisfy Form I-9’s requirements. They cannot reject a worker’s documentation as long as it appears genuine. In addition, the INA prohibits needlessly reverifying work authorization. As such, employers may not request new documentation from a lawful permanent resident upon their permanent resident card expiring.

In an announcement concerning the settlement, the DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division stated, “When employees present legally acceptable documentation to demonstrate their permission to work, employers cannot demand different or additional documents because of the employee’s citizenship or immigration status. The Justice Department will continue ensuring that workers do not face unlawful barriers to employment.”

The settlement will require the employer to pay a civil penalty of $250,000 and make $100,000 available to issue back pay to those harmed by the company’s alleged violations. The employer must also train staff on the INA’s requirements, modify its policies to be compliant, and provide quarterly reports. These reports include an E-Verify Audit Report and all Form I-9s with Section 3 completed during the period.

Many employers struggle to comply with Form I-9’s confusing and continuously shifting requirements. However, by incorporating an electronic I-9 management tool, employers can receive step-by-step guidance for completing the employment eligibility verification process. This tool also provides secure, convenient storage for all forms and documentation.

Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.