Justice Department Settles Claim Against Operators of a Utah On-The-Job Training Program for Discriminating Against Asylee

4 months ago
AMERICA NEWS NOW

The Department of Justice today announced that it signed a settlement agreement with Montana-based Easterseals-Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain Inc. (ESGW), which also operates in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. The settlement resolves a claim that an ESGW office in Utah discriminated against an asylee by rejecting her documents that were valid proof of work authorization and demanding different documents to verify her employment eligibility, based on her immigration status. The investigation also determined that ESGW required other non-U.S. citizens to present unnecessary immigration documents to prove their authorization to work in the United States, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)’s anti-discrimination provision.

The department opened its investigation after the asylee filed a discrimination complaint against ESGW based on her experience with an ESGW on-the-job training program. The investigation showed that ESGW did not allow the asylee to provide her choice of legally acceptable documentation to show that she was authorized to work in the United States. The asylee had presented a valid state ID and unrestricted Social Security card, which are sufficient to complete the federal form (Form I-9) employers use to verify an employee’s identity and work eligibility. However, ESGW rejected the documents and demanded unnecessary additional documents to prove work authorization. The department also concluded that another Utah ESGW office demanded an immigration document from all non-U.S. citizens as a regular practice, even if these workers had already presented other documents sufficient to complete the Form I-9. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary or rejecting documents that reasonably appear genuine to prove work authorization based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. Instead, in the INA, Congress determined that workers may choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States, regardless of citizenship status or national origin.

“Employers may not demand more documents than required by law to prove work authorization based on a worker’s citizenship or immigration status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting asylees and others who are not U.S. citizens from unlawful discrimination.”

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ESGW will pay $6,186 in civil penalties to the United States, revise its policies and procedures and train relevant employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits citizenship, immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.  

Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. More information on the rights of refugees and asylees in the Form I-9 and E-Verify process is available here. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment, or during the employment eligibility verification process (e.g., Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, may file a charge. The public also can contact IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688; call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email [email protected]; sign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.