Department of Justice Reaches Settlement with Company over Allegations of Employment Discrimination during Form I-9 Process

Showing the need for U.S. employers to both understand and adhere to Employment Eligibility Verification “Form I-9” documentation rules and best practices, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement of $50,760 with a Louisiana company to resolve allegations that they “engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against non-citizens in the hiring and employment eligibility verification process,” according to a DOJ press release. In addition to ending illegal document requests, the company agreed to pay $43,560 in civil penalties and $7,200 in back pay with interest to the injured party.

After an immigrant authorized to work in the U.S. lost his job when he could not comply with the Louisiana company’s request to provide specific employment documentation beyond what was required by law, a DOJ investigation revealed that the company required all newly hired non-U.S. citizens to present documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) upon hire while not requiring U.S. citizens to present any particular documents. The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision prohibits U.S. employers from discriminating against work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process.  

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, which protects work authorized individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of citizenship status or national origin discrimination, including discrimination in hiring and the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. When completing a Form I-9, the rules state that employers “are not permitted to request more or different documents than are required or to refuse to honor documents tendered that reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the individual presenting the document.”

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the ‘M-274: Handbook for Employers, Instructions for Completing Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form)’ to guide to employers in completing Form I-9s. The most recent version of the handbook (Rev. 06/01/2011) is available at: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a background check firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – is a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that helps employers comply with Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements. To learn more visit,

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco area with a mission to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and provides industry leading technology, legal compliance, service, turnaround, and accuracy. ESR also wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen. For more information, visit