By Rebecca L. Sigmund, Ogletree Deakins
Late last month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement agreement with a large clothing retailer to resolve claims that the company discriminated against a non-US citizen in violation of the federal immigration laws. The agreement requires the payment of substantial back pay and close DOJ monitoring of the retailer’s immigration employment verification practices for a two-year period of time.
Specifically, the DOJ indicated that the company had required an individual to present a green card (as opposed to other work authorization documents), which is prohibited under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision. The law prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation for reporting such discrimination.
In light of the DOJ’s focus on these issues and the expansive terms of this settlement, employers should reevaluate and monitor their I-9 verification and re-verification processes and practices. Employers should not ask for specific, additional, or different documents during the I-9 employment verification processes (verification and re-verification). Employers should provide the I-9 Lists of Acceptable Documents to the hire/employee and let him or her choose the document (s) he or she would like to present to the employer when completing the employment verification process.