The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a recent settlement agreement with a Maryland-based staffing services company. This agreement addressed allegations that the company had discriminated against a worker due to citizenship status concerns potentially delaying the hiring process. According to the DOJ, the employer rescinded a job offer and delayed his eventual hiring due to suspicions that his status as a lawful permanent resident could delay the hiring process.
The DOJ’s investigation began after a lawful permanent resident complained about a rescinded employment offer. According to the plaintiff, the employer retracted a contract position with the federal government due to his citizenship status. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers cannot discriminate against potential workers based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in the hiring process.
According to the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, “Employers cannot make hiring decisions based solely on assumptions or stereotypes about an applicant’s citizenship status. The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act’s nondiscrimination mandate to ensure that all job applicants are treated fairly.”
In its investigation, the DOJ revealed that the federal contract had no provisions against hiring a lawful permanent resident for the position. It also proved that the employer rescinded the offer of employment based on suspicions that the worker’s status would slow the hiring process. Due to the investigation, the company renewed its job offer to the complainant. However, the initial rejection delayed the worker’s ability to begin employment.
According to the settlement, the employer must pay the worker $3,360, plus interest, for damages caused by discrimination and delaying the hiring process. It must also pay the U.S. government a civil penalty of $4,465. The agreement also stipulated that the company must revise its policies to comply with the INA. Other requirements include providing its staff with training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and undergoing additional monitoring by the DOJ for three years.
As this settlement shows, employers may struggle with INA compliance when verifying an individual’s citizenship and immigration status. The employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process is a critical source of INA violations. However, employers can avoid mistakes during the Form I-9 process by incorporating an electronic I-9 management system into the onboarding process. This tool can guide HR personnel in verifying each employee’s identity and work authorization. It also provides secure storage for forms and documentation.
Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9Compliance.