This month, the Justice Department announced that it has reached agreements with two separate companies, based in Seattle and Dallas, to resolve complaints of discrimination in its hiring practices. The companies both engaged in hiring practices that required that non-U.S. citizens prove their authority to work in the U.S.
Specifically, the company based in Seattle required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to give employers specific Department of Homeland Security documents to prove they were authorized to work in the U.S., which they didn’t demand of U.S. citizens. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, those discriminatory practices are illegal.
The company in Dallas also asked non-U.S. citizens who had been recently hired to show specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security in order to verify their employment eligibility. However, U.S. citizens were allowed to choose which documents to provide in order to show eligibility for employment. In addition, the company selectively used the E-Verify system to confirm that the non-U.S. citizens or foreign born employees were eligible to work, but didn’t use the system for everyone. This company also violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Both companies settled their disputes with the Justice Department. Each company will pay a penalty, undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, revise its procedures on employment eligibility verification, and have its employment eligibility verification processes monitored for a year. One of the companies will also have to pay back pay to any employees who suffered lost wages as a result of the company’s policies.
Under law, employers can’t create hurdles for non-U.S. citizens to jump through in the employment eligibility verification process. Employers also can’t discriminate against or harass employees based on their national origin or ethnicity. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment Housing Act protect employees from discrimination or harassment in the workplace based on national origin, ethnicity, and a number of other reasons.
The protections under Title VII and the Fair Employment Housing Act prohibit employers from deciding who to fire, hire, lay off, promote, or give raises or extra benefits to based on national origin or ethnicity. Employees can’t be harassed in the workplace, which may include extremely offensive jokes, ethnic slurs, mocking caricatures, and more. To be actionable, the harassment can’t be a playful joke or an offhand comment – it must be so severe and occur so often that it impacts employment conditions for the employee. The harassment doesn’t have to come from the employer in order to be actionable – it can come from a co-worker, customer, or another individual in the workplace.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that non-U.S. citizens, or citizens who originate from another country, should not be subjected to unfair hurdles in the employment process, discrimination, or harassment. If they are, the employer should be held responsible for legal damages, including back pay and benefits, compensation for emotional stress, and other damages. If you have been the victim of discrimination at work based on what country you are from, your citizenship status, your accent, or similar reasons, call Micha Star Liberty at Liberty Law. Micha Star Liberty is an employment attorney in Oakland who works with clients who have been the victims of discrimination in the workplace. She works with clients throughout the San Francisco Bay area, including Tracy, Hayward, Alameda, Fairfield, San Jose, and Berkeley. Call today at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.