The Department of Justice (‘DOJ’), Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (‘OSC’) entered into a settlement agreement with a landscaping company following allegations of immigrant discrimination. The DOJ lawsuit against the landscaping company who violated immigration laws, by requiring Lawful Permanent Residents (‘LPRs’ or ‘Green Card Holders’) to produce their green cards in order to prove their work authorization. The OSC investigation concluded the landscaping company discriminatorily required LPRs provide their green cards in order to prove work authorization in the employment verification process while allowing US citizens to select whatever valid documentation they wanted to demonstrate work authorization. The settlement agreement required the landscaping company to pay several thousands of dollars in civil penalties. The agreement also mandated the company to undertake training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA as well as undergo monitoring and reporting.
This settlement is a good reminder to U.S. employers of the employment verification requirements and the consequences for engaging in discriminatory practices. It is important for employers to remember that LPRs are issued green cards and have authorization to live and work in the U.S. permanently. The green card generally contains an expiration date; with certain exceptions due to the date the green card was issued. The expiration of the green card does not indicate the holder has lost his or her permanent resident status in the United States; therefore an expired green card does not mean the individual has lost their right to work in the US. But, an LPR cannot use an expired green card for Form I-9 employment verification purposes. Moreover, as detailed above, an employer cannot mandate a particular document be used for identity and work authorization.