Please note that as of January 18, 2017, the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices has been renamed the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER).
IER’s telephone intervention program is an innovative form of alternative dispute resolution. It allows a caller to IER’s worker or employer hotline to work informally with IER’s staff to resolve potential immigration-related employment disputes within hours or minutes, rather than months, without contested litigation.
Note: the following list includes both intervention categories that apply to individuals falling within a particular immigration or citizenship status as well as intervention categories that apply to a particular type of employer action: I-9 and document issues; E-Verify; Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure; Asylee/refugee issues; Citizenship status discrimination and National origin discrimination.
I-9 and document issues
IER receives calls about a broad variety of Form I-9 and document-related issues. IER regularly intervenes when employers request specific documents or reject documents during the Form I-9 process based on a worker’s citizenship or immigration status, or based on a worker’s national origin as prohibited by the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. In addition, IER sometimes educates entities other than employers about documents that non-citizens may possess.
IER’s interventions related to other I-9 and document issues may be accessed here.
E-Verify is an electronic employment eligibility program administered by DHS and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Contact information for IER is included in E-Verify materials for workers who believe they have suffered discrimination based on their national origin or citizenship status during the E-Verify process. IER cooperates with DHS and SSA in educating employers and workers about the E-Verify process and the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers during the process. IER also helps work-authorized individuals whose employers have discriminated against them in the E-Verify process on the basis of their national origin or citizenship status, whose employers misused E-Verify, and/or who have lost their jobs in connection with the E-Verify process.
IER’s interventions related to E-Verify may be accessed here.
Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure
IER often receives calls from workers and employers about automatic extensions of employment authorization documents (EADs) for beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). TPS is a temporary immigration benefit that allows qualified individuals from designated countries who are in the United States to stay here for a limited time period, due to certain conditions such as on-going armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions in the country. For more information on TPS and DED, click here. DED is not a specific immigration status. Upon the expiration of a TPS designation, the President of the U.S. may grant DED to TPS beneficiaries if he determines it is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to defer their removal for a period of time.
Both TPS and DED are short-term, temporary programs that affect large numbers of people whose EADs all expire on the same date. In recent years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued automatic extensions of employment authorization for TPS and DED recipients to allow sufficient time to process applications for EADs. IER educates employers about the automatic extension of employment authorization in order to deter employers from rejecting valid work authorization documents or requesting specific documents during the I-9 process and to prevent the wrongful termination of TPS or DED beneficiaries.
IER’s interventions related to beneficiaries of TPS and DED may be accessed here.
Refugee and asylum status may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they may be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Refugee status is granted to persons prior to their arrival to the U.S. and asylum status is granted to persons who apply for asylum after arriving in the U.S. Refugees and asylees are authorized to work indefinitely but may receive temporary employment authorization documents from DHS. IER educates employers about the documents that asylees and refugees may possess in order to prevent employers from wrongfully terminating asylees or refugees, or from rejecting documents or requesting specific documents during the Form I-9 process in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.
IER’s interventions related to asylees and refugees may be accessed here.
Citizenship status discrimination
The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits citizenship or immigration status discrimination with respect to hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee by employers with four or more employees.
Employers may not treat individuals differently because they are, or are not, U.S. citizens or another category of protected persons. U.S. citizens, recent permanent residents, asylees and refugees are protected from citizenship status discrimination. IER may intervene to assist workers who believe they may have been discriminated against based on their citizenship or immigration status, oftentimes based on a worker’s belief that an employer prefers to employ workers of a different citizenship or immigration status.
IER’s interventions involving alleged citizenship status discrimination may be accessed here.
National origin discrimination
The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits national origin discrimination with respect to hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee, by employers with more than three and fewer than 15 workers. Employers may not treat individuals differently because of their place of birth, country of origin, ancestry, native language, accent, or because they are perceived as looking or sounding "foreign." All work-authorized individuals are protected from national origin discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has jurisdiction over employers with 15 or more workers.
IER’s interventions involving allegations of national origin discrimination may be accessed here.