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Refusal to Hire Based on Immigration Status Is Illegal Discrimination

Among the many hurdles faced by immigrants to the U.S., getting a desirable job can be one of the biggest. Companies of all sizes and across various industries sometimes exhibit prejudice against hiring foreign-born workers, even those whose employment is authorized by law. However, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against job candidates or employees based on their citizenship or immigration status. Workers who have been victims of such discrimination have the right to pursue legal action.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains a strong anti-discrimination provision that makes it illegal for employers of four or more workers to treat people differently in recruiting, hiring or firing due to their immigration status or national origin. Under the INA, all of these actions by an employer could be considered unlawful:

  • Requiring a job candidate to produce more or different immigration documents than legally required for employment verification
  • Refusing to accept documents provided by an employee that appear to be genuine
  • Having a practice of only hiring U.S. citizens to do certain jobs, except for certain high-security positions
  • Denying a job to a temporary resident with a work authorization because the company doesn’t want to deal with the paperwork
  • Asking job candidates of Asian, Latino or other descent to produce work authorization papers but not asking white candidates for the same paperwork
  • Posting job advertisements seeking applications solely from people with certain immigration statuses

Job applicants and employees who believe they have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of immigration status or national origin can file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER). The IER is required to investigate the charges within 120 days and determine whether to take legal action. In December 2022, a New Jersey recruiting company settled IER charges that it violated the INA through restrictive job postings. If the OSC doesn’t act, then the victim can pursue their own legal remedies.

Immigration and employment law are complex, so if you feel you have been discriminated against based on your immigration status or national origin, you should speak with a qualified New Jersey employment lawyer about your rights. You do not have to try to navigate the system by yourself. An attorney can assess the situation and guide you along the way.

The attorneys of Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack represent clients throughout New Jersey who may have been victims of immigration and citizenship discrimination during the job application process, job interviews, and all other points in the hiring cycle. You can reach us by calling 551-245-8894 or contact us online.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for his…

Bruce  L.  Atkins Attorney Photo
Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

Bruce L. Atkins is the Senior Managing Partner at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt P.C., a prominent plaintiff employment law firm in the tri-state area. Mr. Atkins believes employees’ rights should be aggressively pursued when they’ve been wrongfully dealt with by their employers. He brings this philosophy to his practice when considering each case and its…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigation such as discrimination, retaliation and whistle blowing matters. He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a sexual…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey

Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), the…

Carly Skarbnik Meredith Attorney Photo
Carly Skarbnik Meredith

Carly Skarbnik Meredith, Esq. is a Partner at the firm. Carly has focused her career exclusively in the field of employment law. She has a plethora of experience representing both employees and employers with their employment issues, needs, and concerns. She believes representing both employees and employers has made her an extremely well-rounded client advocate.…


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