DOJ Settlement Agreement Illustrates the Risks of Discriminatory Practices in The Hiring Process

DOJ Settlement

A recent settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and 16 major private employers has illustrated the dangers of citizenship status discrimination. As a result, these employers suffered nearly $1 million in civil penalties, spent significant resources on updating their policies and training, and faced reputational harm.

The DOJ started this investigation in response to a report about a third-party recruiter advertising a job for U.S. citizens only. This practice runs amiss with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin. In addition, the investigation allegedly found several more discriminatory job advertisements from this recruiter and several colleges.

In each settlement, the companies denied liability, and several claimed the colleges operating the platform held responsibility for the alleged violations. However, the DOJ maintained a contrary view that the employers were liable for discriminatory postings.

According to the DOJ’s announcement, “The [INA] generally prohibits employers and recruiters from limiting jobs based on citizenship or immigration status unless required by law, regulation, executive order or government contract. In addition, the INA protects U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, refugees, asylees, and recent lawful permanent residents from citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee.” As the DOJ elaborated, temporary work authorizations are not a reason to discriminate against an individual, particularly regarding the employment eligibility process (Form I-9).

As these settlements show, the current administration is continuing to focus on investigating allegedly discriminatory practices, and no employer is too large to escape the DOJ’s scrutiny. As a result, employers must complete Form I-9 for every new and current hire. The Form I-9 confirms the individual’s authorization to work in the U.S. but not their current immigration status. In addition, employers must accept provided documentation that satisfies the minimum documentation requirements and appears genuine. They cannot request specific or additional documentation.

Avoid repeating the mistakes of the 16 major private employers in this recent settlement by complying with the INA and correctly filling out every Form I-9. One of the best ways to comply with these requirements is by investing in an electronic I-9 management system. This system can help guide employers in every step to ensure uniform completion. It also provides secure storage of documentation and forms for future action and review.

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