For a second time in a week, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) announced it had reached a settlement with a company for immigration discrimination involving I-9 document abuse. The second of its settlements stemmed from wrongdoing by a major airline. OSC’s investigation was initiated based on a telephone call to the agency’s hotline. Following an investigation, OSC found that the airline requested lawful permanent resident employees complete additional Forms I-9 and provide additional proof of employment eligibility after hire, but did not require U.S. citizen employees to do the same.
This is unlawful because the INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status.
Under the settlement agreement, the airline must pay a $215,000 penalty to the United States, create a $55,000 back pay fund to compensate individuals who may have lost wages due to the company’s practices, and undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The company will also be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility reverification practices by OSC for a period of two years.
This is yet another example of the risks an employer faces if it is not fully compliant with the I-9 employment eligibility verification process. Employers must remember that compliance consists not only of timely completing the I-9 process and verifying the identity and work authorization of a new hire, but also requires completion of the I-9 process in a manner that does not discriminate against non-U.S. citizens. Employers should not only make sure that I-9 forms are error free, but also that the manner in which the forms are being completed is compliant with anti-discrimination provisions.