Maricopa County Community Colleges to Pay for I-9 Discrimination

Arizona’s Maricopa County Community College District has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve allegations that it discriminated against non-citizens in the I-9 process. The District will pay more than $45,000 in civil penalties and another $22,000 in back pay.

The Justice Department found that the Community College District required newly hired employees who were not U.S. citizens—but who were legally authorized to work—to present specific documentation to complete the I-9 form. Also, on at least two occasions, the Community College District prohibited employees from beginning work even though they produced documentation sufficient to establish their identity and work eligibility.
Federal law, of course, allows employees to present any acceptable document or combination of documents to prove identity and work eligibility. Employers are expressly prohibited from demanding employees present certain documents or more documents than are legally required.
“There is a careful balance here that employers must remember in this time of increased enforcement,” says Ryan Adair, MSEC Manager of Immigration Services. “Federal law is clear that employers cannot employ unauthorized workers, but it is equally clear that they cannot discriminate against workers, either.”
In addition to the fine and back pay, as part of the settlement agreement, the Community College District will train its HR staff, turn over its I-9 forms for inspection, and provide periodic reports to the Department of Justice for a three-year period.