Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against people based on several factors, including their citizenship or immigration status, or their national origin. These protections apply during the hiring, firing, recruiting, Form I-9, or E-Verify processes. Employers with 15 or more workers also are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees in any term, condition, or privilege of employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), age, disability, or genetic information.
Employers cannot discriminate when:
- Hiring a new employee;
- Verifying an employee’s authorization to work on the Form I-9;
- Electronically confirming identity and employment authorization with E-Verify, including in the E-Verify tentative nonconfirmation (mismatch) process; or
- Terminating a person’s employment.
Employers also cannot retaliate against a person who:
- Files a charge of discrimination with the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
- Participates in an investigation or prosecution of a discrimination complaint; or
- Asserts their rights or the rights of others under anti-discrimination laws.
IER investigates charges of employment discrimination related to an individual’s citizenship or immigration status, or national origin under a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act, found at 8 U.S.C. section 1324b. The EEOC also investigates employment discrimination based on national origin, in addition to other protected bases under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. IER generally investigates national origin claims against employers with four to 14 employees, and EEOC investigates national origin claims against employers with 15 or more employees.
|Types||What is prohibited?||Which employers are covered?|
|Citizenship or immigration status||Employers cannot discriminate when hiring, firing, or recruiting because of someone’s citizenship, immigration status or type of employment authorization. U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, asylees, refugees, and recent permanent residents are protected from this type of discrimination.||Employers with four or more employees are covered.|
|National origin||Employers cannot discriminate when hiring, firing, or recruiting based on someone’s place of birth, country of origin, ancestry, native language, accent, or because they are perceived as looking or sounding “foreign.”||Generally, IER covers employers with four to 14 employees. (Generally, the EEOC-enforced laws cover employers with more than 14 employees. The EEOC also covers discrimination in other aspects of employment, including terms and conditions.)|
|Unfair documentary practices||
Employers cannot, based on someone’s citizenship, immigration status, or national origin:
Employers cannot intimidate, threaten, coerce, or retaliate against a person because that person has engaged in protected activity, such as when someone:
The federal government may penalize employers who discriminate against employees.