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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. Meat Processing Plant Agrees to Pay $52,100 to Resolve IER Discrimination Claim

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

    The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Justice Department has entered into a settlement agreement with West Liberty Foods L.L.C., a meat processing business that operates a plant in Bolingbrook, Illinois, wherein the company will pay $52,100. The settlement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization.

    The investigation revealed that West Liberty Foods routinely asked non-U.S. citizens hired at its Bolingbrook location to present specific documents, such as permanent resident cards or employment authorization documents, to establish their work authorization but did not make similar requests of U.S. citizens. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to more or different documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

    Under the settlement, West Liberty Foods will pay a civil penalty of $52,100 to the United States; revise employment policies to assure that West Liberty Foods does not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status; ensure that its human resources staff participates in IER-provided training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; and be subject to IER monitoring for two years.

    This settlement demonstrates the need for employers to be aware of the anti-discrimination provision of the INA as it relates to treating employees differently due to their citizenship status. To learn more about employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. OSC Settles Two Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), an agency within the Department of Justice, reached settlements resolving claims that the Denver Sheriff Department and the Aldine, Texas Independent School District discriminated against work-authorized immigrants in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The investigation found that from approximately January 1, 2015 until March 23, 2016, the Denver Sheriff Department discriminated based on citizenship status by requiring applicants for deputy sheriff positions to be U.S. citizens and publishing job postings with U.S. citizenship requirements, in violation of the INA. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from limiting jobs to U.S. citizens except where the employer is required to do so by law, regulation, executive order or government contract. The Denver Sheriff Department was not subject to one of the INA’s exceptions.

    Under the settlement agreement, the Denver Sheriff Department will pay $10,000 in civil penalties; identify applicants who may have been disqualified from consideration for deputy sheriff positions due to the citizenship requirement and consider these applicants’ qualifications without regards to their citizenship; train its human resources staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA by attending an OSC webinar; provide the OSC every 6 months for the next three years the completed I-9 forms of all new hires and all recruiting advertisements; and review and revise its policies and procedures to comply with the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.

    The other investigation found that Aldine School District required non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documents when reverifying their employment eligibility once their original documents expired. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making specific documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin when verifying or reverifying an employee’s authorization to work.

    As part of the settlement agreement, Aldine School District will pay a $140,000 civil penalty, revise its policies and procedures, and train its human resources staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA by attending an OSC webinar.
    In a unique remedy, Aldine School District will implement a three-year program to train students and students’ parents on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision. Specifically, the training program will be focused on educating adult participants in Aldine’s parent literacy/English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, 12th grade students enrolled in certain classes and the school district’s employees.
  3. Company Agrees to Pay $195,000 to Settle Immigration Discrimination Claim

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), an agency within the Department of Justice, has reached a settlement with American Cleaning Company (ACC), a maintenance and janitorial company based in Brighton, Massachusetts, resolving claims that the company discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The OSC’s investigation found that from January 15, 2009 until September 30, 2015, ACC routinely required workers, who were not U.S. citizens, to produce specific documents for the I-9 form and E-Verify processes, even though U.S. citizens were permitted to choose whatever valid documentation they wished to prove their work authorization. Under the INA, all workers, including non-U.S. citizens, must be allowed to choose whichever valid documentation they would like to present to prove their work authorization. It is unlawful for an employer to limit employees’ choice of documentation because of their citizenship or immigration status.

    Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ACC will pay $195,000 in civil penalties, train its human resources staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA through OSC webinars, and review and revise its employment policies and procedures related to nondiscrimination to conform to INA’s anti-discrimination requirements. Furthermore, ACC agreed to eliminate or revise the section of its website entitled “Immigration Compliance” to be consistent with E-Verify requirements, for a three-year period submit any changes in employment policies concerning nondiscrimination on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin to the OSC for their review, and submit written reports to the OSC, if requested to do so, over a three-year reporting period.

    Updated 10-19-2016 at 09:28 AM by BBuchanan

  4. Citizenship Status & National Origin Discrimination Claims Fail

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    In Caltzoncin v. GSM Insurors-Glass, Sorenson & McDavid, 12 OCAHO no. 1287 (2016), the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) reiterated the longstanding requirement to prove citizenship status – one must be a citizen or national of the United States, permanent resident, refugee, or asylee in order to be a protected individual.

    In this case, Mr. Caltzoncin filed a complaint against his employer alleging he was fired on the basis of his citizenship status and national origin discrimination. In Mr. Caltzoncin’s complaint, he conceded that he only had an employment authorization document (EAD) and was not a citizen, permanent resident, asylee or refugee. Under 8 U.S.C. § 13246(a)(3), an individual with an EAD is not protected by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Thus, OCAHO dismissed Mr. Caltzoncin’s complaint.

    Concerning the national origin claim, Mr. Caltzoncin conceded that his former employer employed 15 or more employees. Again, under the law, concerning a national origin claim, an employer with 15 or more employees is not covered by IRCA; rather, the employer is covered by Title VII. Thus, Mr. Caltzoncin’s claim should have been directed to the EEOC, not the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration – Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC). Thus, OCAHO also dismissed this claim.
  5. OSC Settles Discrimination Claim against Sunny Grove Landscaping

    By Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser
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    The Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) reached a settlement with Sunny Grove Landscaping & Nursery Inc. (Sunny Grove), a landscaping company in Ft. Myers, Florida. The settlement resolves the department’s investigation of Sunny Grove for discrimination against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The investigation found that Sunny Grove discriminated against lawful permanent residents by requiring them to produce permanent resident cards to prove their work authorization, whereas U.S. citizens were permitted to choose whatever valid documentation they wanted to prove their work authorization. Lawful permanent residents do not have to show their permanent resident cards when they start working. Like all workers, they can choose whatever valid documentation they want to establish their employment authorization, and many lawful permanent residents have the same work authorization documents as U.S. citizens.

    Under the settlement agreement, Sunny Grove will pay $7,500 in civil penalties to the United States and undergo OSC-provided webinar training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Sunny Grove must review its policies on non-discrimination on the basis of citizenship status and national origin and revise as necessary in order to not discriminate. Sunny Grove must provide the I-9 forms of all non-U.S. citizens on two occasions in the next 12 months. Furthermore, Sunny Grove will be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for one year.

    The violations by Sunny Grove are some of the common violations found in OSC investigations. Thus, employers should review their policies and practices to ensure these violations are not occurring. If not, an employer may find itself under investigation by the OSC and paying civil penalties and possible back pay.
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