Citizenship/Immigration Status and National Origin Discrimination in Employment
The Coronavirus pandemic has created a national unemployment crises that has seen unemployment rates skyrocket to as high as 14% in April 2020. That coupled with office closures and production delays, many authorized US workers have not received their approved work permits, social security cards, driver’s licenses, or other critical documents necessary to obtain gainful employment. Employment authorized workers, be it permanent residents, work visa holders or work permit holders, are finding it difficult to obtain or maintain their employment due to in ability to produce the required verification documents despite government announced flexibility. Many employers are in danger or running afoul of the anti-discrimination policies of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Civil Rights Act because they fail to properly understand the current and changing document requirements.
The Immigration and Nationality Act bars employers from discriminating against employment-authorized individuals based on their citizenship or immigration status or based on their national origin. This federal law prohibits: 1) citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 2) national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 3) unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9 and E-Verify, and 4) retaliation or intimidation.
AN EMPLOYER MAY BE DISCRIMINATING IN THE HIRING AND FIRING PROCESS WHEN IT:
- Refuses to hire workers who sound or appear foreign.
- Prefers to hire U.S. citizens (unless a law, regulation, government contract, or executive order requires that the position be filled by a U.S. citizen).
- Hires non-immigrant visas holders but rejects qualified U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who apply for the same jobs.
- Hires undocumented workers instead of employment-authorized individuals.
- Fires employment-authorized workers for misrepresenting their prior work status but does not
AN EMPLOYER MAY BE DISCRIMINATING IN THE FORM I-9 PROCESS WHEN IT:
- Demands specific documents from non-U.S. citizen workers.
- Asks non-U.S. citizens and foreign-born citizens for more documents than needed to complete the Form I-9.
- Rejects valid employment authorization documents from non-U.S. citizens.
- Demands that lawful permanent residents present a new “green card” when the card expires.
Employers found to be engaging in discriminatory activity may be required to pay civil penalties and back pay to injured parties.