By: Bruce E. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Department of Justice, through the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), announced it has reached a settlement with Quantum Integrators Group, an IT consulting and staffing company in New Jersey. The settlement resolves claims that Quantum discriminated against a lawful permanent resident (LPR) by requiring her, based on her citizenship status, to provide unnecessary documentation before it would refer her for an employment opportunity, and routinely required other work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present unnecessary documents to prove their eligibility to work.

The investigation began after a LPR (green card holder) filed a discrimination complaint with the IER against Quantum. Based on its investigation, the IER concluded Quantum would not refer her to a client so that she could be considered for an employment opportunity unless she first proved she was authorized to work by providing her Permanent Resident Card. According to the investigation, Quantum would have referred a U.S. citizen candidate to the client without requiring similar proof of work authorization. Additionally, it was concluded Quantum routinely required other work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to provide additional and unnecessary documents to prove their eligibility to work.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove eligibility to work based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin. 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. The INA also does not permit an employer to verify an individual’s eligibility to work before a job offer is accepted.

Under the terms of the settlement, Quantum will pay a civil penalty of $4500 to the United States; revise and/or create employment policies that prohibit requesting more or different documents, specifying documents, or rejecting valid documents, because of an individual’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in the recruitment, referral, hiring, and firing processes, and during the Form I-9/E-Verify employment eligibility verification and reverification processes; train its relevant employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, including reading the M-274 Handbook for Employers and attending a webinar provided by the IER; post IER’s poster, “If You Have The Right to Work”, in English and Spanish; and be subject to departmental monitoring for two and a half years.

If you want to know more information on issues related to OCAHO 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.