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Undocumented immigrants have rights in the workplace, P.2

We've been looking in recent posts at some of the serious challenges undocumented workers face in the workplace, including violation of their legal rights. Among these are the right to be free from discrimination based on race and color, national origin, as well as religion. 

Another important discrimination right workers have is the right to be free from discrimination based on citizenship status. This is a lesser known form of discrimination than the above, but it is no less substantial. The Immigration and Nationality Act expressly prohibits such discrimination in the workplace.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers are prohibited from basing hiring, firing, recruitment or fee referral decisions on citizenship status and national origin, nor may they engage in unfair documentary practices in the employment eligibility verification process. It is important to clarify that while undocumented workers do not have the right to be free from discrimination based on their lack of documentation-it is illegal under federal law for employers to knowingly hire or retain workers who are undocumented-undocumented workers do have the right to be free from other forms of illegal discrimination.

An obvious example discrimination based on citizenship status is a hiring policy which excludes non-citizens who are authorized to work in the United States. Another would be requiring applicants to provide additional or specific work authorization documents because of their citizenship status or national origin instead of accepted one of the forms of documentation acceptable under federal law. The law also prohibits employers from intimidating or retaliating against workers who report such practices.

Both undocumented workers and non-citizens authorized to work in the United States should work with an experienced attorney when they experience discrimination on the job. An skilled attorney will be able to guide them through the process of filing a claim with the proper authority, and with pursuing litigation in court, if necessary.

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