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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

OSC Settles Two Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

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By Bruce Buchanan

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The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) recently settled cases with Memphis-area staffing agencies: Prestigious Placement; PFSWeb Inc.; and its subsidiary, Priority Fulfillment Services Inc., as well as Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International Inc., of Menlo Park, California. The agreements resolve complaints alleging discrimination under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

In the Memphis-area cases, the investigation found the companies refused to hire two qualified, Puerto Rican-born individuals because the companies believed that they were born in a foreign country. The companies rejected the workers’ valid Puerto Rican birth certificates and demanded that the workers present naturalization certificates, even though Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth. Under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, employers cannot place additional documentary burdens on workers during the I-9 process based on their citizenship or perceived citizenship.

Under the settlement agreement with the Memphis staffing companies, the charging parties will be paid between $200 and $255 each for lost wages. Furthermore, the companies will pay civil penalties of $1450 to the United States; undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; revise their employment policies and training materials; be subject to monitoring of their employment eligibility verification practices for two years; and refer applicants and employees who complain, formally or informally, of discrimination in the hiring, firing, or employment eligibility verification and re-verification process immediately to the OSC by directing the affected individual to the OSC Poster and the OSC’s worker hotline and website, and advise the affected individual of his right to file a charge of discrimination with the OSC.

In the Accountemps case, the investigation, based on a charge by a naturalized U.S. citizen, concluded the company refused to refer the charging party for a federal government contract position because, as a naturalized citizen, the charging party was not born in the United States. Under the INA, employers cannot discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their citizenship status, including refusing to hire them based on whether they were born in or outside the United States. Under the settlement, Accountemps will continue to refer the charging party for positions for which she is qualified, pay a $2,500 civil penalty, train its staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, review and revise, if necessary their employment policies and training materials and be subject to a one-year monitoring period.

As these cases demonstrate, employers continue to try to impose their own standards for specific documentation needed for certain individuals, i.e., Puerto Ricans and naturalized citizens. Unfortunately for these employees, this is unlawful.
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Comments

  1. Retired INS's Avatar
    Very interesting case, thank you. Maybe the Human Resources department was run by Mexicans. When I raided worksites with the INS, I found that Mexicans and Puerto Ricans did not get along very well.
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