What employers need to know about DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) office?

There are many federal agencies that regulate some part of employer conduct.  All employers should know that there is a legal obligation to complete the Form I9 for all new hires (not independent contractors).  When completing the form, an employer must allow a newly hired employee to present any of the lawful documents to show eligibility to work in the United States.  Employers must treat all new hires in a non-discriminatory manner, and cannot ask extra questions, or offer heightened scrutiny to the documents provided by individuals from certain countries.  The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the INA regulations for this law are found at 28 C.F.R. Part 44.

Federal law prohibits: 1) citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 2) national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 3) unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9 and E-Verify, and 4) retaliation or intimidation.

A recent example of enforcement involved a Settlement Agreement with a Florida restaurant (Rustic Inn Crabhouse) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  After terminating a new hire that did not present requested documents, the IER completed an investigation into whether Rustic Inn discriminated against work-authorized immigrants by verifying their employment authorization, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  The restaurant routinely requested that work-authorized non-U.S. citizens present specific documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents, to verify their citizenship status information, but did not subject U.S. citizens to such verification.   This is prohibited discrimination based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin. The restaurant paid a $4,000 civil penalty, as well as train its staff, post notices informing workers about their rights and be subject to IER monitoring for three years.

If you are unsure about how to properly complete the Form I9, or have a question about employment authorization for a new hire, just call our office at 727-350-0370.

 

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