The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a settlement with Tuscany Hotel and Casino LLC in Las Vegas resolving a complaint alleging that the company treated non-citizens differently from U.S. citizens during the employment eligibility verification and re-verification process. DOJ alleged that the casino required non-citizen employees to provide more or different documents than citizen employees during the initial I-9 verification process, as well as during re-verification.  In addition, senior company human resources personnel were alleged to have more closely scrutinized documents provided by non-citizen employees.    

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, released on October 10, 2012, the company agreed to pay $49,000 in civil penalties to the United States and full back pay to an employee.  The company also agreed to implement new employment eligibility verification policies and procedures to ensure that all employees are treated equally regardless of citizenship status, and to conduct HR training designed to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process. 

The complaint was initiated by the DOJ Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), which enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324B. 

With ongoing I-9 enforcement activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), employers should understand that strict compliance with I-9 verification requirements is not optional.  At the same time, as OSC continues to step up anti-discrimination enforcement, employers must ensure that they are not violating the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA unknowingly during the employment verification process.