The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement agreement with a manufacturer of soaps and lotions based in Huntington Beach, California. According to the suit, the manufacturer violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provisions. These violations occurred during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. As such, this agreement settled the dispute, penalizing the company and listing requirements to ensure future compliance.
Based on the DOJ’s investigation, the employer required certain workers to present unnecessary documentation to verify their work authorization. This action happened between September 23, 2019, and October 1, 2020. The Department alleged that the company required lawful permanent residents to present permanent resident cards. Furthermore, the employer did not require specific documentation from U.S. citizens.
According to Kristen Clarke, the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, “Employers cannot limit the type of documents workers can use to prove their permission to work. The Department is committed to knocking down unlawful discriminatory barriers that make it harder for people to work in the United States.”
Under federal law, employers must permit workers to present facially valid and legally acceptable documentation. The law also stipulates that workers may choose what to provide as proof of their identity and work authorization. As such, the INA bars employers from asking workers for any specific documentation.
Furthermore, employers cannot request additional documentation beyond the minimum required. This requirement specifies that employers cannot require more documents due to their immigration status, citizenship, or national origin. The DOJ’s announcement also reminds employers that most non-U.S. citizens may present the same documentation as U.S. citizens to complete the Form I-9. The Department cited examples such as a Social Security card and a driver’s license to prove its point further.
Under the settlement agreement, the employer will pay civil penalties of $130,000. It must also update its employment policies and procedures to comply with federal law. In addition, the employer must provide its employees with training on the INA’s terms and provisions. Finally, the company will undergo additional monitoring by the DOJ.
Employers should take note of this and other recent settlements and review their existing policies to ensure compliance. The best way to confirm uniformly completed forms with every employee is to use an electronic Form I-9 management system. This system can walk personnel through the Form I-9 and E-Verify process. In addition, it can provide safe and accessible storage for forms and documentation and helpful reminders of when to take action.
Ensure compliance today by switching to an electronic I-9 management tool with I-9Compliance.