NYC Healthcare Network Settles With DOJ Over Form I-9 Violations

NYC Healthcare Network Settles With DOJ Over Form I-9 Violations
December 14, 2023

A New York City public benefit corporation recently settled with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). This corporation operates clinics and hospitals for over a million people within the city. According to the DOJ, the corporation violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) via Form I-9 violations. The settlement resolved the DOJ’s accusation of unlawfully rejecting a worker’s employment authorization document (EAD) during employment eligibility verification (Form I-9).

According to the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, “Employers cannot reject valid documents showing someone’s permission to work based on the country the person was born in. Federal civil rights law protects workers from discrimination that can occur when employers are checking their permission to work. The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable employers that treat workers differently because of where they were born or their national origin.”

Based on a worker’s complaint, the DOJ’s investigation began on March 22, 2022. According to the allegations, the employer rejected her valid proof of work authorization. The worker reported that this rejection violated the INA. The DOJ found reasonable cause to believe the complaint and that the company violated the INA. 

According to the investigation, the worker’s EAD had an extension under a Federal Register notice that extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for qualified individuals. TPS is a temporary immigration benefit for those who cannot return to their designated country. The law allows them to remain in the U.S. during this extraordinary and temporary time.

This status allows the individual to apply for EADs, which can receive automatic extensions under Federal Register notices. In these cases, the worker does not need further documentation to prove their work authorization. However, the employer had demanded additional and unnecessary documentation from the worker based on her national origin.

The DOJ revealed that the incident occurred due to a misunderstanding. According to the employer, the mistake concerned how the country of birth on EADs must match the TPS-designated country. However, this requirement does not apply when qualifying for automatic extensions. This confusion caused the employer to demand unnecessary documentation during the I-9 process.

The settlement will require the New York public benefit corporation to pay the affected worker back wages and a penalty of $2,232. It must also train staff on the INA’s anti-discrimination provisions and revise its policies, procedures, and training material. Finally, the company will undergo three years of monitoring by the DOJ.

Employers can avoid compliance issues like this by using an I-9 management system. This system ensures accurate and complete forms by providing guidance when filling out Form I-9s. It also offers secure digital storage, can notify employers when to take further action, and has E-Verify integration options.

Streamline your hiring process with an automated employment eligibility verification and ensure compliance today with I-9Compliance.