Ethnic Discrimination in the Workplace and Immigration Checks

by on January 14, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Immigration status check was retaliation

A court forbade a Minnesota construction firm to check the immigration status of Hispanic workers who complained of ethnic discrimination at work. .

The firm sought to conduct discovery of the workers’ status in an ethnic discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC. But a judge said no.

“Employers cannot discriminate against employees, and then threaten them by seeking information about their immigration status when they complain,” an EEOC lawyer said.

Takeaway: Check workers’ eligibility to work in the U.S. at the time you hire them, not after the fact. Labor laws specifically prohibit threatening undocumented workers with deportation.

Cite: EEOC v. KCD Construction.

Doesn’t everyone look foreign

With ethnic discrimination lawsuits on the rise, it’s a good time to review hiring policies with managers.

For over a decade, a food manufacturing plant allegedly engaged in a pattern of ethnic discrimination and unfair documentary practices.

During the hiring process, U.S. citizens who were believed to look or sound “foreign” and lawful work-authorized immigrants were subjected to greater documentation scrutiny than “American-looking” applicants.

What did the settlement set the company back?

$174,088 in civil penalties and $13,412 in back pay plus employment discrimination training for its HR department, and offering interviews and positions to individual victims.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice.

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