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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Claim for $200,000 against Staffing Companies

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

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    Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement whereby CitiStaff Solutions Inc., and CitiStaff Management Group Inc. (collectively CitiStaff) agreed to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to the United States government. The settlement resolves the investigation into whether CitiStaff violated the law by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their work authorization.

    Based on its investigation, IER concluded that CitiStaff, which provide staffing services in the greater Los Angeles, California area, routinely requested non-U.S. citizens present specific documents to prove their work authorization, such as Permanent Resident Cards (green cards) or Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), but did not make similar requests for specific documents to U.S. citizens. All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

    Furthermore, the investigation found CitiStaff required lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to reverify their work authorization status when their Permanent Resident Cards expired. It is unlawful to require reverification of a green card even if it expires as the LPRs continue to hold lawful status after a green card’s expiration.

    Under the settlement, CitiStaff will pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to the United States, train its staff on the law, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.

    Companies need to be aware of the laws relating to determining employees’ lawful employment status as well as the law concerning re-verification. As you see, it is so easy for employers to make costly mistakes. For the answers to many other questions related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. DOJ Files Complaint Alleging Discrimination Against U.S. Citizens

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Justice Department, acting through Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has filed a Complaint against Crop Production Services Inc. (Crop Production) of Loveland, Colorado, for allegedly discriminating against U.S. workers in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In announcing the Complaint, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated, “In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, the Department of Justice will not tolerate employers who discriminate against U.S. workers because of a desire to hire temporary foreign visa holders.”

    The Complaint, filed with Office of Chief Administration Hearing Officer (OCAHO), alleges Crop Production discriminated against at least three U.S. citizens by refusing to employ them as seasonal technicians in El Campo, Texas, because Crop Production preferred to hire temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program. Additionally, the Complaint alleges Crop Production imposed more burdensome requirements on U.S. citizens than it did on H-2A visa workers to discourage U.S. citizens from working at the facility. For instance, the Complaint alleged that whereas U.S. citizens had to complete a background check and a drug test before being permitted to start work, H-2A workers could begin working without completing them and, in some cases, never completed them. The Complaint also alleged Crop Production refused to consider a limited-English proficient U.S. citizen for employment but hired H-2A workers who could not speak English. Ultimately, all of Crop Production’s 15 available seasonal technician jobs in 2016 went to H-2A workers rather than U.S. workers.

    Under the INA, it is unlawful for employers to intentionally discriminate against U.S. workers because of their citizenship status or to otherwise favor the employment of temporary foreign workers over available, qualified U.S. workers. In addition, the H-2A visa program requires employers to recruit and hire available, qualified U.S. workers before hiring temporary foreign workers. The Complaint seeks back pay on behalf of the workers, civil penalties, and other remedial relief to correct and prevent discrimination.

    This Complaint and Attorney General Sessions’ statement demonstrate the ability of the Trump administration to enforce Trump’s Executive Order - Buy American and Hire American. This is the second Complaint filed in two months alleging discrimination against U.S. citizens. I discussed the first Complaint against Technical Marine Maintenance Texas LLC in a prior blog post - http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?10034...tus-is-Unusual.

    For the answers to many other questions related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  3. I-9 Violations Cannot be Alleged by a Complainant in Discrimination Complaint

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    In Sapre v. Dave S.B. Hoon – John Wayne Cancer Institute, 12 OCAHO no. 1305 (August 2017), an employee alleged the Respondent discriminated against her because of her citizenship status and national origin, retaliated against her, and committed document abuse, thereby violating the antidiscrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b (2012). In a procedural decision, OCAHO denied a Motion for Default Judgment.

    In so ruling, OCAHO denied Complainant’s request that the ALJ inquire into the employer’s alleged Form I-9 errors. OCAHO reiterated that the employer sanctions statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1324a, and accompanying regulations, “do not authorize a private individual to file a complaint directly with an Administrative Law Judge alleging violations in completion of the Form I-9, which is unlawful pursuant to § 1324a(a)(1)(B)” (quoting de Araujo v. Joan Smith Enters., Inc., 10 OCAHO no. 1187 (2013).
  4. Plant Nursery Violates Law by Favoring H-2A Workers

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    Godwin’s Nursery and Trees paid nearly over $117,000 in back-pay and $29,500 in penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor determined the company passed over qualified U.S. citizen workers from Puerto Rico in favor of hiring foreign workers under the H-2A visa program.

    The Department of Labor determined that the nursery violated Section 218 of the Immigration and Nationality Act by denying five qualified workers from Puerto Rico the chance to work; instead, hiring four Mexican nationals through the H-2A visa program.

    Additionally, Department of Labor determined that Godwin failed to post information about the rights of agricultural workers, as required by law, and he failed to provide housing for the workers that adhered to housing health and safety standards.

    Remember if an employer is going to utilize the H-2A program or other non-immigrant visa programs, such as H-2A, one cannot discriminate against U.S. citizens.
  5. DOJ’s Lawsuit for Discrimination Based on Citizenship Status is Unusual

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

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    The Justice Department, through the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), filed a lawsuit against Louisiana-based companies Technical Marine Maintenance Texas LLC, which provides contract shipyard labor, and Gulf Coast Workforce LLC, a related company, alleging that they violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens during the I-9 and E-Verify process.

    According to the Complaint, from at least January 2014 until at least July 2017, Technical Marine asked U.S. citizens to produce List B and C documents, such as a state driver’s license and Social Security cards, respectively. The statistics showed during this period, Technical Marine obtained List B and C documents from 99.56% of U.S. citizens. On the other hand, Technical Marine asked non-U.S. citizens to produce a List A document, such as a permanent resident card (green card) or employment authorization document. The statistics showed during this period, Technical Marine obtained a List A document from 99.29% of non-U.S. citizens.

    This is an unusual case because the Complaint alleges Technical Marine discriminated against both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens by their requests for certain documentation. In most cases brought by DOJ, the discrimination occurs through the request and receipt of certain document(s) by non-U.S. citizens while U.S. citizens are free to present any documentation from the Lists of Acceptable Documents. Because Technical Marine asked for specific and different documents from U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, then both actions are alleged as unlawful. Under the INA, all workers, regardless of their citizenship status, must be allowed to choose from among the valid documentation that proves their employment eligibility.

    This Complaint is a reminder to employers – do not request specific documentation from employees, regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens. If you do, you may be investigated by the IER of the DOJ. Such investigations are costly and subject employers to civil penalties and back pay if they are found to have committed this type of discrimination or if employers reach a settlement with the IER.
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