By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Justice Department has reached a settlement with IAS Logistics DFW LLC, d/b/a Pinnacle Logistics, a transportation and logistics company headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The settlement resolves a claim that Pinnacle Logistics discriminated against an asylee worker based on his citizenship status.

Based on its investigation, the IER concluded Pinnacle Logistics asked an asylee worker to present an additional, DHS-issued document because of his status as a non-U.S. citizen, even though he had already presented sufficient documentation establishing his work authorization. When the worker could not produce the document that Pinnacle Logistics requested, despite being work-authorized, the company terminated him.

The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) 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. Instead, in the INA, Congress determined that 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 does permit employers to reject non-genuine looking documents.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Pinnacle Logistics will pay a civil penalty of $4,250 to the United States, pay back pay of $7,641 to the affected worker, train its employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision and proper E-Verify procedures, through a training assessment and IER webinar, post an English and Spanish version of IER’s “If You Have The Right to Work” poster, revise existing employment policies that relate to nondiscrimination in hiring, and be subject to departmental monitoring for two years.

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.