Nationwide retailer Macy's recently reached an agreement with the Department of Justice after claims the employer discriminated against work-authorized non-citizens at its Glendale, California location.
The INA bars companies from placing excess burden on new hires for any reason. An example of this would be asking a permanent lawful resident for his or her green card while filling out the Form I-9, rather than furnishing the individual with examples of List A, B and C documents. Which identification the new hire provides should be a decision left up to him or her. If the individual provides the wrong combination of List A, B and C documents, simply explain what you need, rather than asking for anything specific.
New hire's start delayed due to alleged discrimination
This is where Macy's went wrong, according to the DOJ. The retailer asked permanent lawful residents for specific documents, rather than leaving the decision up to them. The agency took up the investigation following a charge from a green card-holder who claimed her hiring was delayed in October 2015. She alleged - and the DOJ eventually confirmed - Macy's placed her start date on hold because a hiring official with Macy's believed lawful permanent residents had to show unexpired immigration documents. This is not true, though, and the charging party, in fact, did provide sufficient proof of employment eligibility.
In addition, the DOJ found four other similar cases at the Glendale location, meaning that a number of hiring professionals with Macy's were not properly trained on the Form I-9 and its requirements. Employers should ensure everyone involved in hiring is aware that permanent lawful residents, like U.S. citizens, are allowed to show whichever document they choose while completing the Form I-9.
"Macy's did the right thing by immediately resolving the charging party's delayed hiring and by giving her full back pay," Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said. "All employers should take care not to impose unlawful burdens on employees because of their citizenship or immigration status and address issues promptly when they make mistakes."
The retailer will be required to pay a $8,700 civil penalty as part of the settlement agreement. In addition, the company will have to provide hiring training for employees and assess their understanding of the Form I-9. Macy's will also have to submit Form I-9 information for review.
Two violations in three years
This isn't the first time Macy's was charged with an INA violation. In 2013, the company was also accused of discrimination, something the DOJ later confirmed through an investigation, according to a press release.
"Given the size of their workforce, national employers are particularly encouraged to evaluate their policies and practices and make use of the division's no-cost technical assistance to ensure compliance with the INA's anti-discrimination provision," Gregory Friel, deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the time, said.
Macy's agreed to pay a $175,000 civil penalty as part of the 2013 settlement agreement with the DOJ. The retailer established a $100,00 back pay fund as well, to compensate individuals who may have lost work or seniority due to noncompliant hiring practices. Also, Macy's agreed to allow the government to monitor its hiring practices for two years.
Often repeat offenders are treated more harshly than first-time violators when it comes to hiring infractions. However, it is best for employers to avoid violations entirely. Even one can lead to a substantial penalty.
A Form I-9 compliance solution offered by I-9 Advantage can greatly reduce the risk of discrimination by creating a standardized process for every hiring manager, and validating every entry field on the I-9 to reflect compliance with employment eligibility requirements. Contact us to learn more.