An employer in eastern Washington required all green card holders to present their Permanent Resident Cards when completing the Form I-9. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that this employer has now agreed to pay a fine of $225,750 to settle discrimination charges. The employer also agreed to post workplace notices, train its HR team, and file periodic reports.
Grounds for Filing the Discrimination Lawsuit
According to the DOJ, the employer only required specific documentation from permanent residents; it didn’t do so for U.S. citizens or other individuals who didn’t indicate they were permanent residents. The DOJ filed a discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the workers and the parties eventually settled (Pasco Processing and Washington Potato Company, DOJ settlement, May 2017).
Tips for Employers
The I-9: Understand What Documents Are Required
New hires can present any document from List A, or a document from List B plus one from List C, to satisfy the requirements of Section 2 of the Form I-9. Additionally, the documents provided by the employee don’t have to match what the employee marked in Section 1 for his/her employment authorization. You should present the complete List of Acceptable Documents (as well as the accompanying Form I-9 instructions) and allow the employee to decide which documents to present, as long as they meet the requirements of the list. Errors made on the form can result in penalties of $220 per error, up to $2,191 per form.
Do a Self-Audit of Your I-9 Practices
As you can see, discrimination lawsuits are costly, but avoidable. Make sure you’re doing a self-audit of your I-9 practices. If you have questions about how to complete your Form I-9s correctly, see our Legal Guide, “At a Glance: Form I-9”, which also has helpful links to all of our Form I-9 resources, or contact your Vigilant employment attorney.