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Feds Target Nursing Facility Accused of Verifying Immigrants’ Work Authorization

The Justice Department has reached a settlement agreement with the San Diego-based nursing facility it accused of discrimination for requiring non-U.S. citizens to supply proof of work eligibility.

According to the Justice Department, the Villa Rancho Bernardo Care Center (VRB) discriminated against lawful permanent residents applying for work with the facility by requiring them to produce a permanent resident card (or green card). U.S. citizens were allowed to produce any valid form of work authorization.

As detailed in its settlement agreement, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) concluded that VRB “engaged in a pattern or practice of unfair documentary practices against lawful permanent residents on the basis of their citizenship status. Specifically, OSC found that [VRB] required Lawful Permanent Residents to present their Permanent Resident Cards during the employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship status.”

Lawful permanent residents, however, are allowed to present any form of work authorization they like from the Department of Homeland Security’s list of acceptable documents.

“The Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that individuals who are authorized to work in the United States do not face unlawful, discriminatory barriers,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “It is essential that employers review their employment eligibility verification practices to make sure they are in compliance with the law.”

Under the settlement agreement announced this week, VRB will be required to pay the U.S. government $24,000 in civil penalties, undergo anti-discrimination training, post 8.5” x 11” English and Spanish versions of the OSC “If You Have The Right to Work” poster in places employees and applicants can see them, and be subject to OSC monitoring.

While the Obama administration cracks down on discrimination against non-citizens, reports indicate that worksite enforcement against employers who hire illegal immigrants is on the decline. For example, a 2014 inspector general report found that the administration has reduced average its worksite enforcement penalties by 40 percent.

Additionally a 2015 Center for Immigration Studies analysis of government data further revealed that over a five month period the Obama administration “conducted just 181 workplace audits and brought charges against just 27 employers. This is a small fraction of the worksite activity ICE completed in 2013, when more than 3,000 companies were audited and 179 employers were arrested.”

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