Late last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement agreement with a large clothing retailer to resolve claims that the company discriminated against a non-U.S. citizen in violation of the federal immigration laws. The agreement requires the payment of substantial back pay and close DOJ monitoring of the retailer’s immigration employment verification practices for a two-year period of time.

Specifically, the DOJ indicated that the company had required an individual to present a green card, which is prohibited under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision. The law prohibits discrimination based on citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation for reporting such discrimination. 

In light of the DOJ’s focus on these issues and the expansive terms of this settlement, retailers should reevaluate and monitor their I-9 verification and re-verification processes and practices. Employers should not ask for specific, additional, or different documents during the I-9 employment verification processes (verification and re-verification). Employers should provide the I-9 Lists of Acceptable Documents to the hire/employee and let him or her choose the document(s) he or she would like to present to the employer when completing the employment verification process.


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Ogletree Deakins has one of the largest business immigration practices in the United States and provides a wide range of legal services for employers seeking temporary business visas and permanent residence on behalf of foreign national employees.

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Ogletree Deakins is a retail industry leader with clients ranging from brick-and-mortar retailers to online merchants, and small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations. We represent companies in a range of retail sectors, including but not limited to: discount stores, department stores, luxury retailers, home goods and specialty stores, home improvement centers, grocers, pharmacies, online retailers…

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