By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law



The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with Walmart Inc. The agreement resolves claims that a Walmart store in Fort Worth, Texas, violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by unlawfully requesting specific work authorization documents from non-U.S. citizens based on their citizenship status.

The IER, formerly known as the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, initiated an investigation after a lawful permanent resident (LPR) filed a charge alleging that Walmart fired her on her first day of work because she could not fulfill HR’s request for a permanent resident card issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even though she had already provided other documents sufficient to establish her work authorization. When the worker protested her firing, a regional supervisor and hiring staff member at another nearby store incorrectly reaffirmed the unnecessary request for a DHS-issued document.

IER’s investigation concluded that the human resources employee had a practice of requesting unnecessary DHS documents from non-U.S. citizens to establish their work authorization because of their citizenship status. The INA prohibits employers from (a) rejecting valid work authorization documents, (b) limiting workers’ choice of documentation to present for employment verification, and (c) subjecting workers to different or unnecessary documentary demands, based on the workers’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

To resolve this matter, Walmart provided $1,944 in back pay to the worker and reinstated her employment. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Walmart will pay a civil penalty of $1000 to the United States, its Fort Worth-area stores’ HR staff shall participate in additional training regarding proper Form I-9 procedure - participation in a free IER Employer/HR Representative webinar presentation, self-guided study of the USCIS Handbook for Employers (M-274); and/or additional study of Respondent’s internal training materials regarding proper Form I-9 procedures - and complete a training assessment tool to ensure the effectiveness of the additional training. Additionally, Walmart shall review its employment policies and revise policies to prohibit requesting more or different documents, specifying documents, or rejecting valid documents, because of an individual’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin, and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.

This case is a reminder to all employers – DON’T specify which documents to provide in completion of the Form I-9. If you want to know more information on issues related to employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.