DOJ Reaches Settlement Over I-9 Violations with Florida Based Restaurant Franchise

DOJ Reaches Settlement Over I-9 Violations with Florida Based Restaurant Franchise
April 19, 2023

The U.S. Justice Department has announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with a Florida-based restaurant franchisee. According to the claim, the employer violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9). Additionally, the Department declared that the employer discriminated against a non-U.S. citizen while verifying her work authorization.

According to the settlement, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division investigated the claims. The worker who filed the complaint with the Department alleged that the employer refused to accept her valid work authorization documentation. In addition, the employer requested additional documentation for completing Form I-9.

Though the plaintiff proved her authorization to work in the United States, she could not present an item of documentation the employer requested. According to the plaintiff, her authorization came from an application for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident.

Under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, employers cannot ask for specific documentation. In addition, the INA prevents employers from requesting an excess of the minimum necessary to complete Form I-9. Instead, an employer must accept any identity or work authorization a worker presents that appear facially genuine.

According to Kristen Clarke, the Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, “While employers are legally obligated to verify every new hire’s permission to work in the United States, they cannot discriminate based on the employee’s citizenship status or national origin in the process. The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously combat unlawful discrimination in the workplace and dismantle unnecessary obstacles to work.”

Per the settlement between the employer and the Department of Justice, the company must pay a civil penalty of $1,674. In addition, the employer will also provide back pay to the employee who filed the complaint. Finally, the court has ordered the employer to train relevant staff on the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA and be subject to monitoring by the Department of Justice for three years.

The consequences demonstrated by this case show how crucial it is to prioritize compliance in the employment eligibility verification process. The best way to ensure uniform compliance with each verification is to utilize an electronic I-9 verification tool. This tool will provide easy-to-follow guidance and features, including reminders when action is needed and storage for forms and documentation.

When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.