In a recent announcement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) settled with a Pennsylvania-based chain of grocery stores that operates in several states. This settlement has resolved discrimination claims against the company. According to the DOJ, the company discriminated against non-citizen workers in its employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9), violating the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
According to the DOJ, this investigation began after a non-US citizen attempted to submit documentation to complete their Form I-9. However, the employer allegedly rejected the proof of the employee’s employment eligibility. In addition, the worker claimed that the company had requested further documentation from them.
The DOJ’s investigations found that the employer regularly required non-US citizen workers to provide more than necessary as proof of eligibility. For example, the company frequently asked non-US workers to produce permanent resident cards as proof of permission to work in the US. This request is unnecessary because the employees have already provided evidence of their work authorizations. Furthermore, this investigation revealed how the employer favored US citizens by allowing them to choose what legally available documentation they wished to use.
Under federal law, all workers may submit valid and legally acceptable identity and work authorization documentation to complete Form I-9 regardless of their immigration status, citizenship, or national origin. Under the INA, employers cannot discriminate against workers by requesting any specific documentation as a result of any of these protected characteristics.
Furthermore, non-citizen workers may have access to the same types of documentation as US citizen workers. These documents include driver’s licenses and unrestricted Social Security Cards. Therefore, when verifying a new hire’s documentation to complete Form I-9, it is crucial to accept any valid documentation a worker submits that appears genuine.
According to the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clark, “Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their citizenship, immigration status or national origin when verifying their permission to work. The Justice Department will continue to ensure that workers do not face unlawful discrimination when proving their permission to work in the United States.”
As this case shows, the Form I-9 process can be a minefield for litigation. One of the best ways to help ensure uniform compliance in completing Form I-9 is to use an I-9 management tool. This tool can provide step-by-step guidance, helpful reminders when action is needed, and secure storage of forms and documentation.
Streamline your hiring process with an automated employment eligibility verification and ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.