Immigration status discrimination, also sometimes referred to as citizenship discrimination or national origin discrimination, happens when an employer treats an employee or applicant differently based on their citizenship or immigration status. It can also occur when employers demand excessive documentation or specific documentation of prospective employees’ right to work in the U.S. People who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, asylees, and refugees are legally protected against immigration status discrimination under federal law.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement with a fast food chain franchisee allegedly committing immigration status discrimination in Southern California. According to a DOJ news release, the franchisee in question owned four restaurants in Southern California. The investigation indicated the company discriminated against non-U.S. citizens during the hiring process when verifying their permission to work in the country.
Companies are not allowed to treat people differently in hiring, firing, recruitment, or referral for a fee because of either their citizenship status or national origin. Federal law (specifically 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(6) ) prohibits employers from discriminating against workers by demanding more documents than necessary – or specific documents – to prove their permission to work, immigration status, or national origin. Workers have the right to choose which valid, acceptable documents they want to provide when establishing their permission to work in the U.S.
This investigation was launched after a complaint from a prospective employee (native to another country) asserted the company refused to accept his valid documents proving his permission to work. The fast food franchise demanded he provide different documentation. The DOJ launched an investigation, and discovered the company routinely engaged in discrimination against non-U.S. residents. In particular, their discrimination was against lawful private residents. These individuals were reportedly refused employment until they provided an extensive (DOJ would say excessive and unnecessary) among of documentation.
All employers should be educated about the fact that the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision bars employers from requesting more records than necessary (or specifying the type of documents workers should present). Continue Reading ›