By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law



The Justice Department, acting through the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division, has reached a settlement agreement with the Housing Authority of Victoria, Texas (Housing Authority). The settlement resolves a complaint that the Housing Authority discriminated against a lawful permanent resident when it rejected his valid employment documents and fired him in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It is illegal under the INA for employers to discriminate against lawful permanent residents in the hiring and firing process.

The investigation, which was initiated based upon the lawful permanent resident’s complaint, concluded the Housing Authority improperly requested that the worker present more documents than necessary to prove his ability to work, thereby rejecting the identification and unrestricted Social Security card he had already presented, based on his citizenship status. These actions constitute unfair documentary practices in violation of the INA.

The investigation also concluded that the Housing Authority improperly terminated the worker based on his citizenship status when he could not comply with its discriminatory document request. Under the INA, workers are allowed to choose from lists of acceptable documents to prove that they are authorized to work, and employers cannot reject valid documents or specify which documents the workers should present because of their citizenship.

Under the settlement, the Housing Authority will offer to rehire the worker, provide him $4,082 in back wages, pay civil penalties in the amount of $4,543 to the United States, train employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, shall review its employment policies and revise such policies to prohibit discrimination on the basis of citizenship, immigration status and national origin, HR personnel must attend an IER employer webinar presentation, and be subject to departmental monitoring requirements for two years.

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.