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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. IER Settles Claim of Discrimination of U.S. Workers by Triple H Services, Landscaping Company

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC



    The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), a part of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, reached a settlement agreement with Triple H Services LLC, a landscaping company based in Newland, North Carolina. The agreement resolves an investigation into whether Triple H discriminated against qualified and available U.S. workers based on their citizenship status by preferring to hire temporary workers with H-2B visas, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The IER’s investigation found that although Triple H went through the motions of advertising over 450 landscape laborer vacancies in five states, it did so in a manner that misled U.S. workers about the available positions and prevented or deterred some from applying. The IER found Triple H did not consider several qualified U.S. workers who applied for positions in Virginia during the recruitment period, instead it hired H-2B visa workers. In several states where jobs were available, Triple H prematurely closed the online job application process for U.S. worker applicants, filled positions with H-2B visa workers without first advertising the jobs to U.S. workers in the relevant locations, or advertised vacancies in a manner that did not make the postings visible to job seekers using state workforce agency online services.

    The IER concluded that in taking these actions, Triple H effectively denied U.S. workers access to jobs based on its preference for hiring temporary H-2B visa workers to fill the positions. Refusing to consider or hire qualified and available U.S. workers based on their citizenship status violates the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, regardless of whether an employer has complied with other rules governing the use of temporary employment-based visa programs.

    The Justice Department touted this settlement agreement as part of the Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa workers. Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said, “The Department will continue to fight to ensure that U.S. workers are not disadvantaged because of their citizenship status.”

    Under the settlement, Triple H must establish a backpay fund, with a cap of $85,000, to compensate certain individuals who were harmed by its practices; pay $15,600 in civil penalties to the U.S. government; engage in enhanced recruitment activities to attract U.S. workers; revise any existing employment policies so that they prohibit discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status, and national origin in the recruitment and hiring processes; train its Human Resources personnel on their legal obligations to not discriminate by viewing a free online IER webinar presentation; and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting for a three-year period.

    This settlement is the second in the last week related to discrimination against U.S. workers. For answers to many other questions related to the IER and immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. IER Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims Against J.C. Penney

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law



    The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), a Division of the Justice Department, has reached a settlement agreement with J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc. The agreement resolves two investigations, one into whether J.C. Penney unlawfully rejected a lawful permanent resident’s valid work authorization documentation, and the other into whether J.C. Penney violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by unlawfully reverifying the work authorization of certain non-U.S. citizens.

    The first investigation was prompted by a lawful permanent resident’s charge alleging J.C. Penney violated the INA’s anti-discrimination provision when J.C. Penney fired her in August 2016. The investigation found J.C. Penney had improperly rejected the worker’s unexpired Permanent Resident Card as proof of her work authorization. The second investigation found J.C. Penney had unlawfully reverified the work authorization of certain non-U.S. citizens solely based on their citizenship status, even though those non-citizens had presented the same type of valid work authorization documents as U.S. citizens when first hired.

    The IER also found J.C. Penney unlawfully requested specific immigration documents from certain workers during the process of reverifying their work authorization because of their immigration status. Among other things, the INA prohibits employers from (1) rejecting valid work authorization documents, (2) limiting a worker’s choice of documentation to present for employment verification or reverification purposes, and (3) subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands, based on the employee’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

    Under the terms of the settlement, J.C. Penney will pay a civil penalty of $14,430 to the United States; pay $11,177.60 in back pay to the worker who filed the charge; train its staff and corporate human resources personnel on their legal obligations to not discriminate on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, and national origin; require HR personnel to take an open book multiple choice test on the I-9 process; revise any existing employment policies so that they prohibit discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status, and national origin; honor employees’ documentation that appears genuine and relates to the person; not request more of different documents than required by law; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for two years.

    It appears the IER is requiring more and more from employers entering into settlements. For example, HR personnel at J.C. Penney will be required to pass a test. This is a method to make sure that the law as relates to the I-9 process will be followed in the future. For answers to many other questions related to the IER and immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  3. IER Settles with Setpoint Systems Over Discrimination Against Non-Citizens

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC



    The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), a Division of the Justice Department, has reached a settlement with Setpoint Systems Inc., an Ogden, Utah, engineering company. The settlement resolves an investigation into whether the company engaged in hiring discrimination against non-U.S. citizens protected under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision.

    The investigation found that from 2015 to 2017, Setpoint Systems had an unlawful policy of hiring only U.S. citizens for professional positions and refusing to consider otherwise qualified non-U.S. citizens based on the company’s erroneous understanding of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). ITAR regulates specific exports of defense articles and services and limits the access of certain sensitive information to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, asylees, and refugees. ITAR does not authorize employers to only hire U.S. citizens. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual in the recruitment and hiring process based on citizenship status, unless authorized by law.

    Under the settlement agreement, Setpoint Systems will pay $17,475 in civil penalties to the United States for the alleged unfair immigration-related employment practices; train its Human Resources personnel on their legal obligations to not discriminate by viewing a free online IER webinar presentation; review and revise, if necessary, any existing employment policies that relate to nondiscrimination based on non-U.S. citizenship status; ensure all job advertisements have been reviewed by legal counsel or an employee who is trained on anti-discrimination laws; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.

    This settlement is another indication that the federal government is serious about cracking down on discrimination based on whether one is or is not a U.S. citizen. For answers to many other questions related to the IER and immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  4. DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Themesoft Inc.

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    The Department of Justice, through the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement with Themesoft Inc., a Texas-based company that provides consulting and staffing services to technology clients. The settlement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against a work-authorized immigrant by refusing to allow him to continue in the hiring process, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The investigation, initiated based on a worker’s complaint, revealed Themesoft engaged in citizenship status discrimination against an asylee by refusing to process his application because he was not a lawful permanent resident, U.S. citizen, or H-1B visa holder. Asylees have permanent work authorization, like U.S. citizens, refugees, and lawful permanent residents, so employers are generally prohibited from discriminating against them based on their citizenship status. The investigation also revealed Themesoft requested specific immigration documentation from the worker because of his citizenship or immigration status even though the INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits such conduct.

    Under the settlement agreement, Themesoft will pay $12,000 in back pay to the Charging Party and offer him employment; $4,543.25 in civil penalties for the alleged citizenship status discrimination and the unfair documentary practices; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; train its Human Resources personnel on their legal obligations to not discriminate by viewing a free online IER Employer/HR Representative webinar presentation and reviewing the M-274 Handbook for Employers; review and revise, as necessary, any existing employment policies that relate to nondiscrimination based on traits or characteristics protected by law; for the next three years, provide the most current version of the Form I-9 Lists of Acceptable Documents to individuals in the same manner as it provides them with the Form I-9 to complete; and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.
  5. 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.
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