Justice Department Settles Case that Claimed Discrimination in Form I-9 Process

Form I-9 Updates

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On September 15, 2021, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement to resolve claims that a company discriminated against workers during the Form I-9 process by requiring them to present specific work authorization documents depending on their citizenship status, according to a DOJ press release.

The settlement agreement was entered into by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) – which is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) – and a company based in California that manufactures parts for medical devices.

The INA is a federal law that prohibits: 1) citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 2) national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 3) unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9 and E-Verify, and 4) retaliation or intimidation.

After a U.S. citizen filed a discrimination charge against the medical device manufacturer, the DOJ found that the company rejected the worker’s unrestricted Social Security card to prove her work authorization, required her to provide an additional unnecessary document, and then withdrew her job offer when she did not comply.

The investigation also found that the company routinely requested unnecessary and specific work authorization documents from all new employees, limiting each new hire’s choice of documents based on the worker’s citizenship status. For example, U.S. citizens were required to show a U.S. Passport or birth certificate.

Federal law allows all work-authorized individuals to choose which valid and legally acceptable documentation to present to demonstrate their identity and authorization to work in the United States. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the medical device manufacturer will pay a civil penalty of $13,400 to the United States and $21,360.55 to the affected worker. In addition, the company will train its employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and be subject to monitoring for a two-year period.

“Employers must give workers the opportunity to present any acceptable document when verifying that they are authorized to work in the United States,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division stated in the press release, adding that employers who do not have “committed unlawful discrimination.”

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requires employers in the United States to complete the “Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification” for all newly-hired employees to verify their identity and their employment authorization to work in the country. For more information about Form I-9, visit www.uscis.gov/i-9.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was ranked the #1 background check firm by HRO Today in 2020 – provides a robust solution that simplifies the Form I-9 process so employers may compliantly verify work status. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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