On March 23rd, 2012, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it reached an agreement with Ross Stores Inc ., who will pay more than $17,000 to settle a claim that the company had engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination based on citizenship status while verifying employment eligibility at its store in San Ysidro, Calif.
The claim alleged that Ross Stores discriminated against an employee by refusing to hire her, improperly requiring her to provide the company with a green card, even though she presented a genuine employment authorization document (EAD) for Section 2 of the Form I-9. More broadly, the department accused Ross of subjecting newly hired non-U.S. citizens to excessive demands for documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security, in order to verify their employment eligibility, but did not require the same of United States citizens.
In the settlement, Ross Stores, Inc. agreed to reinstate the employee and pay $6,384 in back pay plus interest. The retailer also agreed to pay the government $10,825 in civil penalties. Ross Stores also agrees to comply with the law, to train its human resources personnel about employers’ responsibilities to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process and to be subject to reporting and compliance monitory requirements for 18 months.
The anti-discrimination provision (§ 274B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b requires employers to treat all authorized workers equally during the employment eligibility verification process, regardless of their national origin or citizenship status. This federal law specifically prohibits document abuse (unfair documentary practices during the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process.
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