Preventing Discrimination

Preventing Discrimination

The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on their citizenship or immigration status, or based on their national origin, in the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, process. It is important for employers to develop, implement and enforce anti-discrimination policies, practices and procedures, and to ensure that all employees and their authorized representatives conducting Form I-9 verification on their behalf understand the rules. Employers should also provide them with appropriate and adequate education on employer responsibilities and worker rights.

To prevent discrimination, the employer should treat all people equally when:

  • Announcing a job
  • Taking applications
  • Performing interviews
  • Making job offers
  • Verifying the individual's authorization to work
  • Hiring the individual
  • Terminating the individual's employment

Employers also must not retaliate against a person who:

IER investigates charges of employment discrimination related to an individual's citizenship or immigration status or national origin. EEOC also investigates employment discrimination based on national origin, in addition to other protected bases. IER investigates national origin claims against employers with 4 to 14 employees and EEOC investigates national origin claims against employers with 15 or more employees.

Preventing Discrimination in the Form I-9 Process

Employers must accept any document an employee presents from the Lists of Acceptable Documents, as long as the document reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the employee. Employers must not:

  • Demand that an employee show specific documents
  • Ask to see employment authorization documents before an individual accepts a job offer
  • Refuse to accept a document, or refuse to hire an individual, because a document will expire in the future
  • Refuse to accept a receipt that is acceptable for Form I-9 purposes
  • Demand a specific document when reverifying that an employee is authorized to work

Remember: employers must reject documents that do not reasonably appear to be genuine or to relate to the individual presenting them.

Types of Employment Discrimination Covered by IER

Types

What is prohibited?

Who is protected?

Is my employer covered?

Citizenship or immigration status

Employers must not discriminate with respect to hiring, firing, recruitment or referral for a fee against individuals because they are or are not U.S. citizens or because of their immigration status or type of employment authorization

U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, permanent residents, asylees, and refugees

All employers with more than 3 employees are covered.

National origin

Employers must not discriminate with respect to hiring, firing, recruitment or referral for a fee against individuals based on their place of birth, country of origin, ancestry, native language, or accent or because they are perceived as looking or sounding "foreign"

All employment-authorized individuals

IER covers small employers with more than 3 but less than 15 employees. EEOC covers larger employers. EEOC also covers all aspects of employment, including terms and conditions of employment.

Document abuse

Employers must not

  • request  more or different documents than are required to verify employment authorization and identity
  • reject documents that reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the employee
  • specify certain documents over others based on an employee’s citizenship or immigration status, or national origin

All employment-authorized individuals

All employers with more than 3 employees are covered.

Retaliation/Intimidation

Employers must not intimidate, threaten, coerce, or retaliate against a person because that person:

  • files a charge with IER or EEOC
  • participates in an investigation or prosecution of a discrimination complaint
  • contests action that may constitute discrimination
  • asserts his or her rights under anti-discrimination laws
  • asserts another person’s rights under anti-discrimination laws

All employment-authorized individuals

All employers with more than three employees are covered.

Employers who discriminate against employees may be penalized by the federal government.

Last Reviewed/Updated:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION