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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

Immigration Discrimination costs Employers $155,500 in OSC Penalties; by Bruce Buchan

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The Justice Department, through the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), has settled cases with Potter Concrete of Dallas, TX, and SK Food Group Inc., of Seattle, WA, resolving claims that the companies used discriminatory document practices when verifying the employment eligibility of non-citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Double Standards Used by Two Companies
OSC was tipped off by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in both cases. The OSC investigations concluded the companies subjected non-citizen new hires to unlawful demands for specific documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order to verify their employment eligibility, while U.S. citizens were allowed to show their choice of documentation. In the Potter Concrete case, the investigation also revealed the company selectively utilized E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of individuals they knew or believed to be non-citizens or foreign born.

The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin.

Terms of the Two Settlements
Under Potter Concrete's settlement agreement, it will pay $115,000 in civil penalties to the United States; undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; revise its employment eligibility verification policies; and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for one year.
Under SK Food’s settlement agreement, it will pay $40,500 in civil penalties to the United States; identify and provide back pay to any individuals who suffered lost wages as a result of the company’s alleged discriminatory documentary practices; undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for one year.

Takeaway
After several months without a press release, these two settlements reflect that the OSC is continuing to pursue discrimination cases against employers. See my blog post on OSC’s last press release from January, here: “OSC Settles with City over Citizenship Status Discrimination”. Employers need to be aware that they cannot use separate standards in requesting documentation from U.S. citizens and non- U.S. citizens.

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