On February 14, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an unpublished decision in Liu v. BASF Corporation, No. 09-1850 (8th Cir. Feb. 14, 2011), that affirmed a lower court's decision to reject discrimination claims based solely on immigration status. In Liu, the plaintiff alleged that BASF violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII") by discriminating against him due to his national origin. Liu's claim arose out of a decision by BASF to close his worksite and transfer certain employees to its North Carolina facility. At the time, Liu was in valid H-1B status but had only 13 months left in that nonimmigrant classification until he reached the six-year limit. Liu claimed that BASF's refusal to support an extension of his H-1B status discriminated against him.
The district court granted the motion by BASF for summary judgment. Liu appealed to the Eighth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's decision and found that BASF based its decision not to transfer Liu to its North Carolina facility on the fact that his visa would expire in less than two months after the reorganization was scheduled to take place. The Eighth Circuit rejected Liu's argument that BASF violated Title VII by refusing to support an extension for Liu. The Eighth Circuit also found that nothing in the record demonstrated that BASF acted on the basis of Liu's national origin. Rather, BASF's decision was based on his immigration status, not national origin, and this was not actionable under Title VII.