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DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against California Skilled Nursing Facility

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The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement recently with Villa Rancho Bernardo Care Center (VRB), a skilled nursing facility in San Diego. The agreement resolves the department’s investigation of VRB for discrimination against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The department’s investigation found that VRB discriminated against lawful permanent residents by requiring them to produce specific documents to prove their work authorization, while permitting U.S. citizens to show any valid work authorization documentation they chose. Specifically, during the interview and hiring processes, including in certain online job postings, VRB requested that lawful permanent residents produce a permanent resident card (often known as a “green card”).

Lawful permanent residents are not required to show employers their permanent resident cards to work; like all workers, they can present their choice of valid documentation from the Department of Homeland Security’s lists of acceptable documents to establish their identity and work authorization. For example, lawful permanent residents can establish their work authorization by presenting a state or federal identification document and an unrestricted Social Security card.

Under the settlement agreement, VRB will pay $24,000 in civil penalties to the United States, undergo department-provided training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA and be subject to monitoring requirements.

“The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that individuals who are authorized to work in the United States do not face unlawful, discriminatory barriers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “It is essential that employers review their employment eligibility verification practices to make sure they are in compliance with the law.”

Badmus advisory: Employers must never ask new hires for a specific document to prove work authorization. To avoid what could be a very expensive mistake, companies need to properly train managers and any employees who are charged with completing I-9 forms. For affordable training options, you are invited to call me at 214-393-4917.

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