November 20, 2016

Government Sues Washington-based Companies for Immigration Discrimination

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against two Washington-based companies, Washington Potato Company and Pasco Processing LLC, alleging that they violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against immigrants during the employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship status.

According to the complaint, from at least November 2013 until at least October 2016, Washington Potato and Pasco Processing requested specific employment authorization documents for the Form I-9 and/or E-Verify from non-U.S. citizen employees, but allowed U.S. citizens the flexibility to present a variety of documents. Under the INA, all workers, including non-U.S. citizens, must be allowed to choose freely from among the valid documentation that proves their work authorization. The INA prohibits employers from discriminating by unlawfully limiting some workers’ choices based on their citizenship status.

“Federal law protects individuals with legal work authorization from facing discriminatory obstacles during employment eligibility verification,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “All people with legal employment status in the United States must receive an equal opportunity to prove they can work, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.

I hope this article helps you understand basic immigration requirements, but please don’t consider it as legal advice or legal opinion about your specific circumstances. Evaluation of your case from an experienced immigration lawyer should be part of your immigration prescription.

For legal advice and guidance for your unique situation, you are invited to schedule an immigration strategy session with me.