Since 1986, most employers in the U.S. have had a legal obligation to verify that everyone they hire has the legal authorization to work in the country. While U.S. citizens have legal work authorization, so do legal permanent residents, certain nonimmigrant visa holders and even others.
Some employers either are not familiar with work eligibility rules or prefer only to hire U.S. citizens or temporary workers. Still, if an employer uses your citizenship or immigration status to illegally discriminate against you, you might have grounds to file a legal complaint.
Citizenship status discrimination
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, citizenship status discrimination occurs when an employer takes adverse employment action because of a person’s citizenship or immigration status. Adverse employment action can include refusing to hire, terminating employment or engaging in other employment-related activities.
Employment eligibility verification
While most employers in the U.S. must ask new employees to complete employment eligibility verification forms, the I-9 process cannot be discriminatory. Indeed, as long as you can provide documentation that proves you have legal work authorization, your employer likely cannot take adverse employment action against you.
Sometimes, citizenship status discrimination happens before you even apply for a job. If a job posting limits the applicant pool to only U.S. citizens without some legal justification for doing so, the employer may in violation of federal law. The same is true if the posting tries to recruit only permanent residents or nonimmigrant workers.
Ultimately, if you believe you have a basis for a citizenship status discrimination charge, it is important to keep as much documentation as possible to help bolster your claim.