By: Bruce E Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

The Department of Justice, through the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement agreement with Microsoft Corporation. The investigation began after a Microsoft applicant’s spouse called IER’s hotline to report that the company asked her husband for his Permanent Resident Card while he was applying for a job. The investigation found evidence that Microsoft asked lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees to undergo an evaluation of their need for Microsoft to sponsor them for an employment-based visa even though they do not require sponsorship to work in the United States. The investigation also determined Microsoft routinely sent emails to lawful permanent residents asking them for documents to confirm their continued work authorization even though they had already provided documents showing permanent work authorization.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires employers to verify a worker’s permission to work in the United States. But the law prohibits employers from asking for documents when not required or from limiting or specifying the types of valid documentation a worker is allowed to show to prove permission to work because of a worker’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.

Under the settlement, Microsoft will:
  • revise parts of its hiring process to ensure it is not unlawfully requiring non-U.S. citizen job applicants, including those with permanent authorization to work, to provide specific immigration documents to prove they do not require sponsorship for a work visa;
  • stop sending emails requesting documents to reverify work authorization to workers whose work authorization should not be reverified;
  • allow workers who need to show their continued work authorization to provide their choice of documentation that is acceptable for that purpose;
  • pay civil penalties of $17,352 to the United States;
  • train its employees who are responsible for verifying and reverifying workers’ permission to work in the United States, by attending IER-provided webinar;
  • 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 two 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.