By: Bruce E. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law


The Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the Department of Justice has announced it has reached a settlement agreement with ChemArt, a Rhode Island-based manufacturer of ornaments and custom-designed collectibles, by the payment of a civil penalty and backpay. The settlement resolves claims that ChemArt discriminated against a U.S. citizen worker because of her perceived citizenship status and retaliated against the worker when she objected to the practice in violation of the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The investigation of ChemArt began after the affected worker filed a discrimination complaint with the IER. The investigation concluded after ChemArt offered the worker a human resources staff position, the company unlawfully requested the worker provide a specific immigration document for employment eligibility verification purposes – a permanent resident card, based on her perceived citizenship status. Soon after she objected to the document request as discriminatory, ChemArt rescinded the worker’s job offer.

Under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, all workers must be permitted to choose among the valid work authorization documents to prove their employment eligibility regardless of their citizenship status. The INA’s antidiscrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting specific work authorization documents because of an individual’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. The statute also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers because they opposed unlawful employer conduct or conduct that they reasonably believed was unlawful discrimination.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ChemArt will pay a civil penalty of $3,000 for the violations; provide back pay of $288 to the charging party for lost wages; review its application and onboarding materials to ensure compliance with the INA’s antidiscrimination provision; revise and/or create employment policies that prohibit requesting more or different Form I-9 documents, specifying Form I-9 documents, because of an individual’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin and prohibit any reprisal action against an employee for having opposed any employment practice made unlawful by 8 U.S.C. § 1324b; train its staff about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision by attending a webinar provided by the IER; post IER posters informing workers of their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision; and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.

If you want to know more about issues of citizenship/immigration 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 http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.