On July 8, 2013, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) between its Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”), which investigates immigration-related unfair employment practices, and the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). The MOU formalizes a collaborative relationship between the two government offices to allow them to coordinate investigations and share information about matters that fall under both parties’ jurisdictions.

The NLRB oversees the enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), which covers the rights of employees to join together, either by union or non-union, in order to improve working conditions and advocate for wage increases and standardization. The OSC oversees the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration Nationality Act (“INA”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin or citizenship status during employees’ hiring, firing or recruitment for a fee. Where these matters overlap, the MOU allows the OSC and NLRB to work together, cross-train, share information, and refer matters to one another without violating the law or compromising case confidentiality. This MOU is also designed to promote OSC’s inter-agency cooperation with federal, state, and local governments.

The OSC’s ongoing and expanding collaboration with over 50 government agencies ensures that even if a citizenship status or national origin discrimination matter is filed with the incorrect agency, it will be prosecuted appropriately. This inter-agency partnership should serve as a reminder to all employers to provide regular compliance and anti-discrimination training to all company personnel responsible for hiring, firing, recruiting, Form I-9 compliance, E-Verify processing, and new hire on-boarding.

Lisa Kerns