By: Bruce E. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with JP Senior Healthcare LLC and JP Senior Management LLC, which managed two nursing facilities owned by JP Senior Healthcare, Pioneer Valley Living and Rehab of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, and Goldenrod Manor Care Center of Clarinda, Iowa.

Based on its investigation, the IER determined that while verifying a new employee’s legal right to work in the United States, JP Senior Healthcare and JP Senior Management rejected the U.S. citizen’s valid driver’s license and unrestricted Social Security card. The investigation further concluded the companies demanded that the worker instead present a Permanent Resident Card based on the companies’ incorrect belief that the worker was not a U.S. citizen, even after the worker explained that he was a U.S. citizen, and therefore, ineligible for a Permanent Resident Card. Additionally, it was determined these documentary demands resulted in the end of the worker’s employment. 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 status or national origin. Instead, all work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status or national origin, may choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, JP Senior Healthcare LLC and JP Senior Management LLC will pay a civil penalty of $1,928 to the United States; pay the injured worker back pay of $1,789, plus interest; revise its policies to ensure that they prohibit discrimination on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, and national origin in the hiring and firing process and during the Form I-9/E-Verify employment eligibility verification and reverification processes; 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.