By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has reached a settlement agreement with Onin Staffing LLC, a Birmingham, Alabama-based staffing company with locations in over a dozen states. The settlement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized, non-U.S. citizens in McAllen, Texas, because of their citizenship status.

The investigation concluded that from May 2018 until May 2019, Onin Staffing employees in its McAllen, Texas, office required specific work authorization documents from all non-U.S. citizens, while not imposing a similar requirement on U.S. citizens. Federal law allows all work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, to choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin.

Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay a civil penalty of $70,695, revise employment policies related to immigration compliance, train its human resources personnel on the requirements of the INA’s antidiscrimination provision through attendance at an IER webinar, post IER’s poster – “If You Have the Right to Work”, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for 2 years. Additionally, to avoid discrimination in the future, the company must change the features of the Form I-9 software it uses that do not comply with federal law.

If you want to know more about issues of citizenship status discrimination and 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