By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) reached a settlement agreement with Cumberland Staffing Inc., doing business as AtWork Cumberland Staffing (ACS), a temporary staffing agency located in Cookeville, Tennessee, to resolve an allegation that ACS engaged in citizenship discrimination by requiring a U.S. birth certificate in order to be considered for employment. This requirement discriminated against work-authorized immigrants and naturalized U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The OSC initiated its investigation after a Tennessee resident notified it of an ACS job posting that included a U.S. birth certificate requirement. The investigation found that between December 2015 and February 2016, ACS created and published a job posting stating that applicants for machine operator positions at a client company must present a U.S. birth certificate. The discriminatory posting was published on several job search engine websites during this time period.

In the absence of a legal basis to do so, such as a law, regulation or government contract that requires U.S. citizenship restrictions, employers, recruiters and referrers for a fee may not limit job opportunities or otherwise impose barriers to obtaining employment based on an individual’s citizenship, immigration status or national origin. By requiring a U.S. birth certificate – a document that only non-naturalized U.S. citizens possess – to be considered for an employment opportunity, ACS’s job posting created a discriminatory barrier for work-authorized individuals, such as naturalized U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees.

Under the settlement agreement, ACS will pay a civil penalty of $1,200, remove all specific document requirements from its job postings except where required by law, train staff on proper employment verification and reverification procedures, including attendance at a OSC webinar on anti-discrimination, and ensure that trained staff or legal counsel review future job advertisements.
The takeaway from this settlement is do not require certain documentation, such as a U.S. birth certificate, that will discriminate against other work-authorized indiduals