By Qiong Yang
On June 20, Alberto Ruisanchez, deputy special counsel for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, spoke at the Asian American Civic Association about unfair job discrimination for immigration-related employment practices.
Ruisanchez is based in Washington, DC. The Civil Rights Division work to stop employment discrimination.
In 1986, the Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control of Act, which authorized non-Americans to work legally if they had I-9 documentation. However, some employers stopped hiring foreigners because they did not want to risk hiring someone without authorization, leading to issues of job discrimination.
Ruisanchez outlined four types of discrimination:
1. Citizenship/immigration status discrimination: If employers say they will only hire U.S. citizens, even if the non-American employee is authorized to work in the United States, they are violating the law.
2. National origin discrimination: If employers refuse to hire someone based on their ethnicity, or the fact that the employee looks different or speaks a different language, then the employer is violating the law.
3. Document discrimination: The I-9 form verifies employees to work by requiring employees to provide relevant documents from either list A, B or C. If employers ask for all the documents, they are violating the law.
4. Retaliation: Employers cannot retaliate against employees who practice their own rights.
Ruisanchez said many workers do not know about employment discrimination and how they can protect themselves. Workers who find themselves being discriminated can call the Civil Rights Division hotline at 1-800-255-7688, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call can be in any language, and they also take calls anonymously.
“One of the great things of hotline is that we can get people back to work immediately,” Ruisanchez said. “We will call the employers, and usually employees can go back to work immediately and get payback from their employers for the time period that they can’t work because of employer discrimination.”
If it is a bigger complaint, the division will interview the employee. Employers may face a civil penalty and fines for violating the law.
For employees, an important thing is keeping written records from work in the event that they are unjustly fired. They should keep e-mails from employers, or write down what happened with specific dates. According to Ruisanchez, the more employees that keep records, the easier it is to resolve the problem. It is also important to report or call the hotline within 180 days from the time of discrimination.
For more information, please visit www.justice.gov/crt/osc.
This post is also available in: Chinese