The Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement with United Natural Foods Inc. resolving allegations that the company discriminated against employees when it impermissibly re-verified the work authorization of lawful permanent residents and required some non-citizen workers to provide specific form I-9 documentation. As part of the settlement agreement, United Natural Foods Inc. will pay $3,190 in civil penalties to the government and has already paid full back pay to the individual involved in the claim.
This case is an example of alleged “document abuse”, more technically referred to as “unfair immigration-related employment practices” in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. A company cannot discriminate against an individual because of their national origin or citizenship status. To avoid the long arm of the law, here are some best practices for your Employment Eligibility Verification forms (“form I-9”):
- If an employee presents a permanent resident card as a List A document, do not ask them to re-verify their work authorization once the card expires. See page 9 of the M-274, Handbook for Employers.
- If an employee presents appropriate List A or List B and List C documents when completing the form I-9, do not ask them to provide different documents just because they look foreign or have a foreign name…like say, my name, Montserrat (Spanish in case you are wondering). See page 27 of the M-274, Handbook for Employers.