On August 14, the Justice Department announced a settlement agreement with Philadelphia-based Best Packing Services Employment Agency, Inc. over allegations that the company delayed the start date of two employees with refugee status after requiring them to provide specific Form I-9 documentation in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provisions.
According to the charges, two employees alleged that they were barred from starting employment despite presenting a valid combination of List B and C documents, namely unexpired state identification cards and unrestricted Social Security cards, during the Form I-9 completion process. Instead, the employees, who are permanently work-authorized on account of their refugee status, alleged that they were not permitted to begin work until they produced unexpired employment authorization documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security. As a result of these practices, the employees lost several weeks of wages.
An investigation conducted by the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices revealed that the company did not require U.S. citizens to present specific Form I-9 documentation and permitted such individuals to produce the same List B and C document combination rejected in the case of employees with refugee status. Pursuant to the INA’s anti-discrimination provisions, employers may not treat employees differently in the employment eligibility verification and re-verification processes based on their citizenship status or national origin.
According to the terms of the settlement, Best Packing Services Employment Agency, Inc. will take immediate steps to correct its employment eligibility verification practices, including awarding full back pay to the affected employees, conforming the company’s actions to the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA and training human resources personnel about preventing discrimination during the employment eligibility verification process.