Employment Discrimination and Immigration Status/Visas

For many in the workplace, employment discrimination can be a harsh reality. Unfortunately, people experience discrimination in a variety of forms each day. Another way employees can be discriminated against is their immigration or visa status. It is important to know that employees who are discriminated against for their immigration status have rights, and action can be taken as a result. When discrimination is suspected, knowing how to move forward can be overwhelming; when taking action, it may be helpful to have a employment lawyer, like one from our partner firm of Cohen & Cohen, with experience in this area of practice to assist with strategizing the next steps.

Employment Discrimination
Employment discrimination is a form of discrimination that can take place during the hiring process or in the workplace. This is when a person is treated differently or receives non-preferential treatment due to their age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin. In regard to immigration status, the Immigration and Nationality Act protects people from discrimination based upon their immigration status and citizenship status.

Examples of immigration status discrimination include:
● Being treated differently or harassed because of perceived immigration status or nationality
● Being asked to verify work authorization during the hiring process
● Refusing to accept a specific document because of an expiration date
● Experiencing acts of harassment

It's critical to understand that when discrimination is present, employees have rights they should be aware of. Being subject to these forms of maltreatment is illegal, and a lawyer can help play a pivotal role in protecting the rights of the person being discriminated against.

Victims of discrimination have 180 days from the date they were discriminated against to file a complaint with the Department of Justice's Special Counsel. Filing can occur by phone, mail, or electronically with a standard form, but it's essential to be aware that supplementary documentation can and should be provided. If you can successfully prove discrimination, you could be entitled to receiving back pay, job reinstatement, and more. Additionally, employers may also be penalized for their actions.

What to do Next?
While no one should experience employment discrimination, it is something that happens every day. Victims of discrimination should consider discussing the specifics of their situation with a discrimination lawyer to understand reasonable next steps.