The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release on September 2 that it had “reached an agreement” with Culinaire International, a Houston, Texas-based catering and restaurant management company, resolving a claim that Culinaire had engaged in “citizenship discrimination” during the work eligibility verification process. DOJ said that the company’s policies were in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
“Employers cannot discriminate against workers by requiring them to produce more documents than necessary in the employment eligibility verification and reverification processes,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran, speaking for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, was quoted as saying in the press release. “The department applauds Culinaire’s willingness to resolve this matter expeditiously and its commitment to changing its past documentary practices.”
The DOJ release noted that under the settlement agreement, Culinaire will pay $20,460 in civil penalties to the United States, undergo training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, establish a $40,000 back pay fund to compensate potential economic victims, revise its employment eligibility reverification policies, and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for 20 months.
In other words, Culinaire will have government bureaucrats looking over its shoulders for the next 20 months.
The irony in this case is that employers are required by both state and federal law (including the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 and the above-cited Immigration and Nationality Act) to verify that employees are authorized to work in the United States. Employers are required to request a document proving the employee’s identity, and a document that provides employment authorization. The Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 requires that all employees, citizens and non-citizens, hired after November 6, 1986, and working in the United States must complete a Form I-9. Furthermore, the employer is responsible for ensuring that Section 1 of Form I-9 is timely and properly completed.
Form I-9 states that “Employers CANNOT specify which document(s) they will accept from an employee,” but does require the employer to examine one document from List A or examine one document from List B and one from List C, as listed on the reverse of the form. List A includes a passport, a Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card, an unexpired foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp, an unexpired Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph, or an unexpired foreign passport “with an unexpired Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94, bearing the same name as the passport and containing an endorsement of the alien’s nonimmigrant status, if that status authorizes the alien to work for the employer.”