Background on the Law
Congress passed the first Immigration and Nationality Act in 1952,
and has amended it many times over the years. The most recent version is the
1986 Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
The law makes it illegal for employers to hire
The law also requires employers to check all new
employees 'work authorization documents and to fill out
"Employment Eligibility Verification."
The law protects workers from discrimination by
penalizing employers who discriminate, and providing remedies for workers
who have been mistreated.
Federal law prohibits workplace discrimination based on a person's national
origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, or familial status.
Employers cannot hire,
fire, promote, discipline, or harass people because of their national
origin. For example, employers cannot make hiring decisions based on
people's names or accents. Employers cannot treat people differently
in the workplace because they look like they come from other parts of
Employers are required by law to only hire those persons whose
documents are in accordance with the I-9 Employment Eligibility
Verification requirements that prove identity and work authorization.
Document abuse may occur when an employer requires more or different
documents than a new employee provides in order to complete Form I-9. Form
I-9 has a list of 29 Employment Eligibility Verification documents. It is
up to the employee, not the employer, which documents they will provide in
accordance with the I-9 requirements.
Citizenship Status Discrimination
The law requires employers to treat U.S. citizens and legal
immigrants to the U.S. on an equal basis.
There are two limited exceptions to this rule:
Where federal, state or local laws, regulations
or contracts with governmental entities require employers to hire only
U.S. citizens. For example, some state laws require police officers to
Where an employer selects an equally qualified
U.S. citizen instead of a non-citizen. This exception is narrow. The
employer must decide on a case-by-case basis at the time of hire,
recruitment, or referral that the two applicants are equally
qualified based on the actual requirements of the job. Employers
cannot use this exception to discharge an employee.
Please note: Although immigration
law does allow these two exceptions, such actions may violate other
federal, state or local civil rights laws.
It is against the law for employers to retaliate, intimidate, threaten or
coerce a worker who:
For example: A day-shift worker provides information in a discrimination investigation. The employer retaliates by moving the worker to the night-shift.