By: Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser
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The Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) has reached a settlement agreement wherein Yellow Checker Star Transportation Company (YCS), agreed to pay $445,000 in civil penalties. YCS is the umbrella corporation for Nevada Yellow Cab Corporation, Nevada Checker Cab Corporation, and Nevada Star Cab Corporation, all Las Vegas taxicab companies. The agreement resolves claims that YCS discriminated against work-authorized immigrants because of their citizenship status.

The OSC’s investigation found that YCS violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision by requiring non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present additional and unnecessary documentation to prove their employment eligibility. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship status or national origin.

The payment of $445,000 in civil penalties is one of the largest amounts of civil penalties levied by OSC for citizenship status discrimination. Other terms of the settlement agreement include: YCS placing six print advertisements in the monthly trade publication, Trip Sheet, over a one-year period advising individuals of the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; undergo monitoring for 18 months, during which time YCS will provide OSC every four months a list of newly hired employees, from which OSC can choose to review the I-9 forms of 150 individuals; revise its nondiscrimination policies within 30 days; and train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.

The requirement to place advertisements in a trade publication shows OSC is becoming creative in its settlements. Furthermore, allowing OSC to review the I-9 forms of newly hired employees is a very onerous requirement put on YCS because OSC could find new violations in its review of the I-9 forms. This settlement should serve as a reminder of the exposure a company can face when it violates the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.