The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the filing of a lawsuit against the University of California, San Diego Medical Center, alleging that the medical center discriminated in the employment eligibility verification process against people who are authorized to work in the United States.

The department’s independent investigation revealed that the medical center engaged in a pattern or practice of subjecting newly hired non-U.S. citizens to excessive demands for documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security in order to verify and re-verify their employment eligibility, but did not require U.S. citizens to show any specific documentation.  The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin. 

“All workers who are authorized to work in the United States have the right to work without encountering discrimination because of their immigration status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are committed to vigorously protecting authorized workers from discrimination in the hiring process and ensuring that employers uphold their obligations under the law.“

The complaint seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the respondent, monetary damages for any individuals harmed by the respondent’s actions, and civil penalties.

Employers, remember that you cannot specify which documents a job applicant can supply for residence and work eligibility verification; you can merely show them a list and let them pick. Personnel Concepts' I-9 Compliance Kit will guide you through all the steps of the I-9 process so you can stay in compliance and keep the DOJ and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents away from your door.