Bel USA Settles with DOJ Over Discriminatory I-9 Practices of their Untrained I-9 Staff


Bel USA LLC (Bel USA), a Florida-based promotional products distributor and retailer has settled with the US Department of Justice for alleged violations of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA.) The DOJ concluded that Bel USA was requesting work-authorized non-US Citizens to provide specific and unnecessary immigration documentation.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Bel USA has agreed to pay a fine to the US government of $100,000, has agreed to provide specific training to its employees, and has agreed to reporting and monitoring requirements to ensure compliance with the INA’s non-discrimination requirements governing hiring, firing, on-boarding, and using E-verify.

Link to DOJ News Release

The burden is on Employers to ensure that their employees are properly trained regarding the employment eligibility verification process so they do not violate federal law, for example, by requiring additional, unnecessary work authorization documents based on a worker’s citizenship status or national origin.

Many times, well-meaning employees who are trying to comply with federal I-9 requirements, but who have not received proper training will “accidentally” discriminate against work authorized individuals. These often innocent actions by untrained employees can be easily reported by a job applicant by simply calling the Department of Justice’s 800# hotline. Once someone calls this hotline, they may be transferred to a government lawyer who may ask additional questions and begin an investigation against the Employer.

Examples of discriminatory employer conduct which is often accidental:

  1. Employer rejects a state ID and an unrestricted Social Security Card from a Permanent Resident, and requests to see their Permanent Resident Card

  2. Employer requests to see an Employment Authorization Document or other Immigration Document from an Asylee

  3. Employer asks Employee to show an updated Permanent Resident Card when the Permanent Resident Card is expiring

  4. Employer doesn’t consider applicants with foreign sounding names

  5. Employer refuses to hire or terminates a current employee who has an expired Employment Authorization Document (EAD) eligible for automatic 180 day extension

  6. Employer requests specific documents from employees with foreign names, or those who speak with an accent – it is unlawful to treat work authorized applicants differently in the hiring process

The best way to try to prevent a similar situation is to provide training to your HR staff on I-9 compliance, including non-discrimination. For a list of our current training's click here.

Leyla McMullen

Business Immigration Attorney MDIVANI CORPORATE IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM

uslegalimmigration.com/our-lawyers/leyla-mcmullen/

NOT LEGAL ADVICE: This article is for educational purposes only, it is not legal advice that may be applicable to our situation

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is general information regarding law and policy that may be applicable to your particular HR issue or legal problem. Information provided in this blog, or any of our other public posts, does not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific advice you can rely upon, please contact your attorney.

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