DOJ Settles With Texas Restaurant Operator Over Form I-9 Violations

DOJ Settles I9 Violation Case

DOJ Settles With Texas Restaurant Operator Over Form I-9 Violations

December 21, 2023

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with a Texas-based restaurant operator. This agreement addressed claims that the employer violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). According to the case, the organization discriminated against an employee while completing the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process.

According to the Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, “Employers that discriminate against workers by rejecting their valid documents or requiring that they show unnecessary documents to prove they can continue to work violates federal law. The Justice Department will continue to hold employers accountable for unlawfully discriminating against workers because of citizenship, immigration status or national origin.”

The Investigation

The DOJ’s investigation began in response to a complaint by a lawful permanent resident. Based on its investigation, the DOJ confirmed that the employer had discriminated against the employee. The Department revealed that the company rejected valid documentation the worker provided to prove their citizenship status. Furthermore, the company requested additional and unnecessary documentation containing an expiration date.

When the candidate failed to provide the requested documentation, the organization terminated his employment. The DOJ alleged that the employer committed “citizenship status discrimination and unfair documentary practices in violation of the unfair immigration-related employment practices provisions of USC § 1324b.” 

Under federal law, workers may choose the documentation they wish to present to prove their identity and work authorization. Employers cannot restrict what documentation an employee can present. They also cannot request additional documentation regardless of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. The DOJ reminded the company to accept facially valid documentation completing the Form I-9 requirements.

As a Result

Once the DOJ began this investigation, the organization rehired the worker and compensated him with lost wages of $7,687.94. The settlement between the DOJ and the employer also included stipulations. For example, the employer must pay a civil penalty of $7,122. Furthermore, the employer must train relevant staff on the INA’s requirements. They must also alter their process for completing the Form I-9 to ensure it complies with the INA’s anti-discrimination regulations.

Finally, the agreement stipulates that the employer must supply written reports concerning INA compliance. They must provide these reports upon request. The company must also allow the DOJ to investigate further. This case shows the importance of complying with the INA to avoid fines and penalties. One way is by partnering with a trustworthy background screening company. The right partner will deliver accurate and compliant reports to ensure your company can make informed decisions.

Learn more about staying in compliance with background checking practices with JDP. Keep your business compliant with new laws and regulations with Pre-employ’s reliable background checks. Contact a sales rep today.


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