• Department of Justice Efforts to Curb I-9-Related Employment Discrimination Intensify
  • January 20, 2012
  • Law Firm: Duane Morris LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • In its latest investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Discrimination has announced that it reached yet another "six-figure" anti-discrimination settlement agreement to resolve allegations that an employer had failed to comply with I-9 procedures for noncitizens authorized to work in the United States. The DOJ brought suit against the University of California San Diego Medical Center (UCSD), alleging a pattern or practice of requesting excessive I-9 documentation of non-citizens. Specifically, UCSD allegedly committed "document abuse" by maintaining a policy of requiring legal permanent residents to provide copies of their green cards, even though they had already met I-9 documentation requirements by presentation of a List B (driver's license) and List C (unrestricted Social Security card) document.

    Under the settlement, the hospital has agreed to pay $115,000 in civil penalties, one of the highest penalties ever assessed. In addition, the hospital has agreed to give supplemental training to its human resources personnel so that such staff will avoid discriminatory practices in the employment eligibility verification process and work with the DOJ to ensure that fair and legal I-9 procedures are being used across all University of California campuses, medical centers and facilities.

    Large healthcare organizations and higher education institutions have been especially targeted by the DOJ during the last 12 months, due to their diverse workforces and multiple hiring sites. All employers should take care to implement I-9 policies and procedures that walk the fine line between verifying employment eligibility and avoiding immigration-related discrimination.