By Bruce E Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Justice Department, acting through the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER), has reached a settlement agreement with Service Minds Inc., dba Mister Sparky (Service Minds), a company that provides contract electrical services to residential customers in Florida and Alabama. The settlement resolves a claim that the company retaliated against a work-authorized job applicant, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when he and his wife challenged a U.S. citizens-only hiring rule that a recruiter had wrongly claimed was the company’s policy.

The IER initiated its investigation after a woman filed a charge on behalf of her husband, an electrician in Ocala, Florida, who applied for a job with Service Minds. The investigation determined that although the applicant was qualified for the position, a company recruiter incorrectly told him that the company could only hire U.S. citizens. The applicant and his wife sent the recruiter information about the INA’s prohibition against citizenship status discrimination and objected to the company’s policy. The IER found, based on the electrician’s qualifications and the company’s past hiring practices, the company would have hired him if he and his wife had not raised an objection. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision generally prohibits employers from retaliating against individuals because they object to conduct that is illegal under the provision, or for exercising other rights protected under that provision.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Service Minds will pay the former employee over $24,500 in front pay and back pay, plus interest; pay a civil penalty of $3,695; revise and/or create employment policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, and national origin in recruiting, applicant screening, hiring, employment eligibility verification, and firing processes; train its relevant employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, including 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 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.