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Bloggings on I-9/E-Verify Immigration Compliance

by Bruce E. Buchanan

DOJ Settles Document Abuse Claim against Ohio School

The Department of Justice reached an agreement with Imagine Schools Inc. of Groveport, Ohio resolving allegations that the company discriminated against an employee in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by firing him during the reverification of his employment eligibility.

A complaint alleged Imagine Schools unlawfully terminated a lawful permanent resident after he failed to produce an unexpired lawful permanent resident card during reverification of his employment eligibility status. The employee had originally presented a valid lawful permanent resident card when he was hired, and alleged he was requested to reverify his work authorization, along with a request for a specific document.

Under the settlement agreement, Imagine Schools agreed to pay $20,169 in backpay plus interest to the discharged employee and $600 in civil penalties to the United States. Imagine Schools also agreed to comply with the law, train its human resources personnel about employers’ responsibilities to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process, and be subject to reporting and compliance monitory requirements for 18 months.

Under the INA, permanent resident cards and U.S. passports are not subject to reverification in Section 3 of the I-9 form even if they expire after the employee is hired. Furthermore, the INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits discrimination based on citizenship or national origin in the employment eligibility verification process or reverification process.

In the past six months, DOJ, through the Office of Special Counsel, has settled approximately eight cases against employers for allegedly discriminating against employees in violation of the INA. The backpay and civil penalties due on the eight cases is over $350,000 with the University of California at San Diego Medical Center and Onward Healthcare, Inc. paying $115,000 and $100,000, respectively.

Employers must remember there are two separate agencies involved with investigating and prosecuting immigration compliance violations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Special Counsel of the Department of Justice. Thus, employers must be vigilant in complying with immigration laws even though many times it may seem the two agencies are at odds with each other with employers caught in the middle.

About The Author

Bruce E. Buchanan is an attorney at the at Nashville Office of Siskind Susser, P.C. He represents individuals and employers in all aspects of immigration law, with an emphasis on immigration compliance for employers, and employment/labor law. Mr. Buchanan received his law degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1982 and a B.S. degree from Florida State University, where he graduated magna cum laude. Mr. Buchanan has been in private practice since 2003. Beforehand, he served as Senior Trial Specialist for the National Labor Relations Board for 20 years. He also served from 1991 to 2003 as Adjunct Professor at William H. Bowen UALR School of Law, where he taught courses in Labor Law and Employment Law. Mr. Buchanan was chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Immigration Law Section from 2011 to 2012 and has been the editor of the TBA's Immigration Law Section Newsletter and the TBA's Labor and Employment Law Section Newsletter since 2009. Mr. Buchanan is a frequent writer and speaker on immigration compliance as well as labor law, wage & hour law and proposed federal legislation. He is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and serves as the Advocacy Liaison of the Mid-South Chapter of AILA. Mr. Buchanan also serves on the Board of Directors for the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) and is an associate member of the Mid-Tennessee Chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors. Mr. Buchanan is admitted to practice in Tennessee, Florida, and Arkansas, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and D.C. Circuits and the U.S. District Courts for the Middle District of Tennessee and the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.