The Department of Justice recently announced a settlement agreement with a Texas employer over allegations of discrimination stemming from a dispute over citizenship verification. The employer will pay the affected party $4,263.75 and pay the government a $1,542 civil penalty. It will also update its policies and train relevant employees to avoid future discrimination.
In this case, the employee, a naturalized U.S. citizen with a Venezuelan origin, claimed in a complaint filed with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice that they had submitted a United States passport as proof of U.S. citizenship. However, the employer rejected this, demanding additional verification from other documents due to the employee’s Venezuelan origin.
This additional verification is, in fact, not only unrequired but actually expressly forbidden by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). According to the INA, an employer may only request the documents listed under Section 2 of Form I-9 in order to prove an employee’s eligibility for U.S employment. Requesting more or different documents as well as differentiating based on factors such as citizenship or national origin is forbidden and may result in discrimination claims.