At the same time that the Obama administration is expanding its worksite enforcement actions, the DOJ is vigorously pursuing claims against employers that fail to abide by IRCA's anti-discrimination provisions. During the past year, the DOJ's focus has turned increasingly to the health care industry. In March 2012, the DOJ announced that it had reached an agreement with Onward Healthcare ("Onward"), a health care staffing company located in Wilton, Connecticut, to settle allegations that Onward had posted discriminatory job postings. The DOJ claimed that Onward impermissibly limited applications to American citizens, even though work-authorized immigrants, such as permanent residents, asylees, and refugees, should have been allowed to apply for the positions as well. IRCA generally prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of citizenship unless required by law, regulation, or government contract. The DOJ alleged that there was no legal basis for the citizenship preference reflected in Onward's job postings.
Onward agreed to pay $100,000 in civil penalties, change its internal policies and procedures to reflect IRCA's protections, and be subject to reporting and compliance monitoring requirements for three years.