Article Date: 10/24/2014

Is the Justice Department Cracking Down on Violations of Immigration Law within the Construction Industry?

By Steve Rizer


Federal officials have wrapped up another enforcement action against a construction company over alleged violations of U.S. immigration law. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settled an immigration-related discrimination claim against Constructor Services Inc. (CSI), a business headquartered in metropolitan Atlanta. DOJ alleged that CSI engaged in discriminatory documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification process in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).


The department’s investigation concluded that CSI required non-U.S. citizens -- but not similarly situated U.S. citizens -- to produce specific documentary proof of their immigration status for the purpose of verifying their employment eligibility. INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from making additional and unauthorized documentary demands based on citizenship status or national origin when verifying or re-verifying an employee’s employment eligibility. The alleged violations were believed to have taken place at least between Nov. 8, 2012, and Nov. 7, 2013.


It is difficult to tell whether the latest action is evidence that DOJ is ramping up its enforcement of immigration law within the construction industry. A DOJ spokesperson did not immediately respond to ConstructionPro Week’s inquiry on the topic, but Molly Morgan, acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, did offer this warning after the agreement with CSI was finalized: “Employers must make sure that they are not erecting unlawful discriminatory barriers in their employment eligibility verification policies and practices. The division is committed to identifying and tearing down these illegal barriers.”


Earlier this year, construction contractor M&D Masonry Inc. reportedly was hit for a $228,000 fine for alleged I-9 violations.


The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article includes additional details about these cases.



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