On March 22, 2012, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it reached an agreement with Ross Stores Inc. resolving allegations the company “engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination based on citizenship status while verifying employment eligibility” at a California Ross store. The DOJ also alleged Ross Stores discriminated against a work-authorized individual.
The DOJ investigation began in response to charges filed by a work-authorized, non U.S. citizen who was refused employment after showing a genuine employment authorization document (EAD) for purposes of the Form I-9. The charging party alleges Ross Stores refused to accept the EAD – requesting she produce a green card, thereby asking for additional work authorization documentation not required for U.S. citizens. Per Form I-9 documentation requirements, the charging party had produced sufficient documentation establishing her work authorization.
Under the terms of the settlement, Ross Stores agreed to reinstate the charging party and pay $6,384 in back pay + interest to the charging party. The store also agreed to pay $10,825 in civil penalties to the United States. Furthermore, they agreed to train HR personnel about employers’ responsibilities to avoid discrimination during the employment eligibility verification process. Ross Stores will be subject to reporting and monitoring of their compliance requirements for 18 months.
During the Form I-9 process, employers cannot ask for additional documentation or treat workers differently based on their citizenship status or national origin.
Employers – Are you aware how your HR personnel are treating potential employees?