Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Staffing Company
The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement agreement with Adecco USA Inc. (Adecco), one of the largest staffing companies in the United States. The settlement resolves a claim that Adecco’s Gardena, California office violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against a lawful permanent resident and other work-authorized non-U.S. citizens when verifying their work authorization. The settlement also resolves allegations that when using employment eligibility verification (EEV) software, the company requested unnecessary work authorization documents from non-U.S. citizens because of their citizenship status.
“Employers must ensure that their onboarding software is compliant with relevant laws, and cannot make unnecessary demands for work authorization documents because of someone’s citizenship status,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “We commend Adecco and are pleased that shortly after learning of the Department’s investigation, the company re-hired an affected worker before he missed work, and took additional steps to avoid unlawful discrimination.”
The Department’s investigation began when a lawful permanent resident complained about discrimination that occurred at Adecco’s Gardena, California location. Upon being hired, the worker showed the company his valid foreign passport with a stamp denoting his permanent resident status. Although this documentation is sufficient under federal law to establish identity and permission to work in the United States, the Adecco employee responsible for hiring the worker was unfamiliar with it, rejected the documentation, and asked the worker to present his permanent resident card instead. The worker did not have a permanent resident card so he went home upset that he would not be able to get the job even though he had permission to work in the United States. After the Department opened its investigation, Adecco took immediate corrective action and, among other things, hired the permanent resident without delay for the position he originally sought.
The Department’s investigation also revealed that an employee in Adecco’s Gardena office routinely requested that non-U.S. citizen new hires produce specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove their work authorization, even when they had already provided sufficient proof of their identity and work authorization. The Department also concluded that Adecco unnecessarily reverified the work authorization of certain non-U.S. citizen employees because of their immigration status. The Department’s investigation determined that the commercial EEV software Adecco used prompted Adecco employees to initiate unnecessary employment eligibility reverification based exclusively on workers’ citizenship status.
Federal law allows all work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, to choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States. Moreover, under the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, employers cannot request more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization because of employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.
Under the settlement, Adecco will pay $67,778 in civil penalties to the United States, ensure that its Form I-9 software complies with all relevant rules and regulations, and submit to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. Additionally, Adecco will ensure that relevant employees attend a training the Civil Rights Division approves and take a knowledge assessment tool to demonstrate their understanding of relevant rules.
The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship, immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.
More information on how employers can avoid discrimination in the Form I-9 and E-Verify processes is available here. For information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.
Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.