Employers continue to run afoul of the anti-discrimination provisions of the immigration laws as they strive to comply with the Form I-9 and related employment verification process. Under the immigration law, employers commit "unfair immigration-related employment practices" if they, among other things, ask for too many documents, treat employment applicants differently in the application process, or impose any job requirement that discriminates on the basis of citizenship or national origin. These violations are enforced by the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel ("OSC") in Washington, DC.
On April 9, 2013, Milestone Management Company ("MMC"), a Dallas-based residential property management company, settled discrimination claims by the OSC involving MMC's decision to fire a permanent resident employee who failed to present a new green card when his old one expired. Under the law, permanent residents are not required to re-verify their status once they present a valid green card as part of the initial Form I-9 process. MMC paid a $20,000 civil fine; reinstated the employee; provided him with full back-pay; and agreed to undergo Justice Department training on the law's anti-discrimination provisions.
On March 25, 2013, the OSC announced a settlement with Poulan Pecan ("Poulan"), a Georgia pecan supplier, over claims that the company discriminated against work-authorized employees during its Form I-9 on-boarding process. According to the OSC, Poulan required non-citizens to provide specific documents and more information than required when they completed the Form I-9 process. Under the settlement, Poulan agreed to pay a civil fine, undergo OSC training, and be subject to OSC monitoring of its Form I-9 processes for one year.
On February 8, 2013, the OSC announced a settlement with Avant Healthcare Professionals LLC ("Avant"), a health care staffing company located in Casselberry, Florida, based on the company's Internet-based job postings. According to the OSC, Avant's postings discriminated against U.S. workers by impermissibly preferring individuals seeking permanent residence or H-1B visa sponsorship. Under the terms of the settlement, Avant agreed to pay a civil fine of $27,750; change its internal policies and written procedures to incorporate the law's anti-discrimination provisions; and submit to reporting and compliance monitoring for three years.