By Bruce E Buchanan,Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department has signed a settlement agreement with Fleetlogix Inc. resolving claims that the company discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens by requiring them to provide specific and unnecessary work authorization documentation because of their citizenship or immigration status. Specifically, Fleetlogix required I-94s, Employment Authorization Documents (also known as “work permits”) or Permanent Resident Cards, even though these individuals already presented other valid and legally sufficient documents to prove work authorization, such as a driver’s license and unrestricted Social Security card.

The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin. The INA states all work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, may choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States. However, the INA permits employers to reject non-genuine looking documents.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Fleetlogix will pay civil penalties to the United States totaling $627,000, create a back pay fund of $100,000 for individuals who lost work from a refusal to hire, delayed hire, suspension, termination, or other periods of lost work as a result of the discrimination, train its employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discriminatory provisions, through a training assessment and IER webinar, post an English and Spanish version of IER’s “If You Have The Right to Work” poster in all of its locations nationwide, revise existing employment policies that relate to nondiscrimination in hiring, and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.
This settlement is one of the largest that IER has obtained in a number of years. It is a reminder of the cost of improper immigration compliance. This should act as a wakeup call for employers to undergo regular immigration compliance training.

If you want to know more about issues of immigration status discrimination, 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.