Justice Department Settles with Texas-Based Staffing Company

Justice Department Settles with Texas-Based Staffing Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination

(STL.News) The Department of Justice announced that it reached a settlement with National Systems America LP (National Systems), a Dallas, Texas-based staffing agency.

The settlement resolves the department’s claim that National Systems violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it (1) imposed unlawful citizenship restrictions on applicants for certain positions and (2) required lawful permanent resident applicants, but not U.S. citizens, to provide a specific work authorization document to receive further consideration for a job.

“In the competitive and fast-paced IT staffing industry, it is critical for staffing companies not to impose unlawful hiring restrictions based on citizenship,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John B. Daukas of the Civil Rights Division.  “Employers must not request proof of work authorization before a job offer is accepted and must not interfere with a worker’s lawful right to present acceptable work authorization documents to prove authorization to work in the United States.”

Based on its investigation, the department concluded that National Systems implemented U.S. citizens-only hiring restrictions based on assumptions about its clients’ preferences, and regardless of whether there was any legal justification for doing so.  The department also concluded that even when National Systems was willing to consider non-U.S. citizen applicants, such as a lawful permanent resident, the company nevertheless discriminated against them by requiring them to show specific documentation to confirm their work authorization before it would advance them to the next stage of the selection process.

In general, the INA allows employers to limit consideration for a job to U.S. citizens only when required by a law, regulation, government contract, or an Executive Order; not based on a client’s discriminatory preferences or assumptions about a client’s preferences.  The INA also prohibits employers from requesting more or different documents than necessary to prove work authorization based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.  Instead, in the INA, Congress determined that all work-authorized individuals, regardless of citizenship status, may choose which valid, legally acceptable documents to present to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States.  The INA does, however, permit employers to reject non-genuine looking documents.  Finally, the INA does not permit an employer to verify an individual’s authorization to work before a job offer is accepted.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, National Systems will pay to the United States a civil penalty of $34,200, train its employees about the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and change its policies to ensure future compliance with the statute.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.