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Employment Discrimination Blog

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hiring Immigrants and Anti-Discrimination Laws

Poulan Pecan will pay $500 in civil penalties, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.  The fines are related to the Justice Department’s charge that Poulan Pecan illegally discriminated against work-authorized immigrant workers during the hiring and screening process.  As part of the settlement agreement, Poulan Pecan has also agreed to a year-long monitoring program by the Justice Department of its hiring and screening processes.

The Department of Justice claimed that the Georgia pecan supplier required immigrants to submit more documentation before they could be hired than it required of potential employees who were U.S. citizens.  According to the Justice Department, this policy and practice violates the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The Department of Justice began its investigation in 2012, after an individual called a Justice Department hotline with questions about the legality of the company’s actions when she applied for a job.  The Justice Department’s investigation revealed that the pecan-producing company asked immigrant applicants to supply specific work-authorization documents, as well as more authorization documents, that it asked of U.S. citizen applicants.

Poulan Pecan settled the case before the Justice Department filed a formal complaint.  Gregory Friel, a deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said, “Individuals should be treated equally during the employment eligibility verification process.  This means not placing additional requirements, documentary or otherwise, on individuals based on their citizenship status.”

 

How to Hire Immigrants Without Violating Anti-Discrimination Laws

The Immigration and Naturalization Act covers all U.S. employers with three or more employees.  Here are some examples of hiring and screening practices that would violate the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, according to the website of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice:

  • Refusing to accommodate an applicant’s disability when completing the I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form)
  • Refusing to accept valid and proper documentation in support of the I-9 form
  • Refusing to allow an employee to start work because he or she doesn’t have documentation on the first day (three days are allowed)
  • Refusing to hire a person because he or she is not a U.S. citizen, even though the person has work authorization
  • Refusing to hire a person because he or she “sounds foreign”
  • Having “citizen-only” and “green-card only” policies, unless they are required in your industry by law or regulation
  • Refusing to hire an immigrant, such as a refugee, because his or her work authorization contains an expiration date
  • Rejecting work authorization documents that appear on their face to be genuine
  • Denying the applicant the choice of which acceptable documents to present to satisfy the requirements of the I-9
  • Intimidating or retaliating against an employee or job applicant because that person has filed a discrimination charge, intends to file a charge, or has helped the Justice Department or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with an investigation or other proceeding

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