The Department of Justice has recently announced that it has reached a settlement with a major supply chain services provider over allegations of discrimination in the way the company verified Form I-9 documentation. According to the DOJ, the company denied a non-citizen the ability to produce valid documentation they had chosen to prove employment authorization.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the INA. This statute prohibits all forms of discrimination that are based upon the citizenship status or nation of origin of an employee during the hiring process, firing, recruitment, referral for a fee, illegal documentary practices, as well as intimidation or retaliation for attempting to complain about these practices.
The DOJ began investigating this case in response to a complaint that was filed by a non-US citizen of discrimination. The following investigation found that when the worker’s employer was verifying the employee’s continued authorization to work, it requested that the employee provide a different document provided by the Department of Homeland Security. These allegations would be a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under this Act, employers are required to permit workers to present any valid documentation that proves their authorization to work in the US based on a new hire’s citizenship or immigration status or their nation of origin.
This means that even should an employer be required by law to verify an employee’s initial or continuing authorization for employment within the United States, the employer always possesses a responsibility to permit all employees to choose any valid documentation they may choose.
Under this settlement, the employer will pay civil penalties and be responsible for training employees that perform the document verification component correctly. The company will also consent to further monitoring by the DOJ as well as increased reporting requirements.
As this case aptly demonstrates, navigating the completion of Form I-9 can be a difficult task for employers, particularly in situations with unusual documentation. It is important to ensure personnel in the hiring process are aware of the correct procedures for identifying new hires, and an electronic I-9 management tool can do a lot to help with this. An electronic I-9 management tool can help guide hiring personnel through every step of the process and ensure documents are correctly and consistently completed and stored for review in a secure fashion for whenever they are needed.