By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Department of Justice, through the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement with Pyramid Consulting Inc., an IT staffing company based in Georgia. The settlement resolves claims that Pyramid Consulting discriminated against a new employee.

The investigation began after an asylee filed a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division against Pyramid Consulting. Based on its investigation, IER concluded that during the process of verifying his employment eligibility through the Form I-9, Pyramid Consulting rejected the worker’s driver’s license and Social Security card, which are sufficient documentation for the Form I-9. It was also determined Pyramid Consulting requested he provide an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) instead. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to establish eligibility to work based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

After the worker refused to provide an EAD, and even after he directed Pyramid Consulting to the relevant law prohibiting unfair documentary practices, Pyramid Consulting terminated his employment. Following the initiation of the IER investigation, Pyramid Consulting rehired the worker, but only after he lost several weeks of pay.

The settlement agreement requires Pyramid Consulting to pay a civil penalty to the United States of $5,204 and back pay of $13,920 to the worker, revise its policies that relate to nondiscrimination so that they prohibit discrimination on the basis of citizenship/immigration status, and national origin in the hiring and firing process, and during any Form I-9 and/or E-Verify employment eligibility verification; train its employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision by attending a webinar provided by the IER; and be subjected to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.

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