The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with Onin Staffing LLC (Onin Staffing), a Birmingham, Alabama-based staffing company with locations in over a dozen states. The settlement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized, non-U.S. citizens in McAllen, Texas, because of their citizenship status when verifying their authorization to work in the United States.
“Employers must ensure that their employees are properly trained regarding the employment eligibility verification process so that they do not violate federal law by requiring additional, unnecessary work authorization documents based on a worker’s citizenship status,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We commend Onin Staffing for their commitment to ensuring that all future document requests will comply with the law.”
The Department’s investigation concluded that from at least May 2018 until at least May 2019, Onin Staffing employees in its McAllen, Texas, office required specific work authorization documents from all non-U.S. citizens, while not imposing a similar requirement on U.S. citizens. Federal law allows all work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, to choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization based on employees’ citizenship status or national origin.
Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay a civil penalty of $70,695, train certain employees on the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. Additionally, to avoid discrimination in the future, the company must change features of the Form I-9 software it uses that do not comply with federal law.
The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.
More information on how employers can avoid discrimination in the Form I-9 and E-Verify processes is available here. For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; or discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.