By: Bruce E Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice recently reached a settlement with Tecon Services Inc., an industrial insulation, fireproofing and painting contractor based in Texas. The settlement resolves claims that Tecon Services discriminated against a naturalized U.S. citizen based on her Venezuelan national origin by rejecting her U.S. passport and requiring other documents to prove her work authorization, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The investigation began after the naturalized U.S. citizen filed a discrimination complaint with IER. Based on its investigation, IER concluded that while verifying the worker’s legal right to work in the United States, Tecon Services refused to accept her U.S. passport and demanded additional and unnecessary documents, because of the worker’s Venezuelan national origin.

The INA prohibits employers from rejecting documents that reasonably appear genuine or requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization, based on workers’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the terms of the settlement, Tecon Services will pay a $1,542 civil penalty to the United States and $4,263 back pay and interest to the affected worker. Tecon Services will also revise its policies to ensure that they 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, or hiring processes, and during the Form I-9/E-Verify employment eligibility verification and reverification processes; revise its policies to include citizenship, immigration status, and national origin as prohibited bases of discrimination, ensure its employees are trained on these policies by having access to the M-274 Handbook for Employers and M-775 USCIS E-Verify Manual and participate in IER provided training on anti-discrimination requirements under the INA; post IER’s poster, “If You Have The Right to Work”, in English and Spanish; 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.