Immigration Discrimination Lawsuits

An Overview of Immigration Discrimination Lawsuits


Immigration status discrimination, often referred to as immigration discrimination or discrimination based on citizenship status, is illegal in the United States. All citizens of the United States, permanent residents, refugees and asylees have the right to work without being discriminated on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin, gender, color and age among others. The same statutes extend to the immediate family members as well. Just as a company cannot discriminate against someone based on his or her immigration or citizenship status, they cannot discriminate on the basis of the citizenship status of their parents, spouse and kids or the national origin of their ancestors.


There are only two exceptions accounted for in the law. Permanent residents who have not opted for naturalization within the first six months of their eligibility can be rejected work and their job applications may not be considered. Any immigrant, legal or otherwise, who has been held guilty of any wrongdoing, can be denied work. The wrongdoing would have to be proven in a court and cannot be merely an allegation. The whole premise of immigration discrimination lawsuits stem from the original Civil Rights Act that prohibits all kinds of preferential treatments and subsequent discrimination on the basis of more than half a dozen factors. This includes the color of the skin, the physical appearance or facial traits of an individual and whether or not they can speak English. By extension, the law also protects people who have different accents.


The law is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is tasked with ensuring that no corporation, private businesses or publicly held companies, trade unions and associations that have more than fifteen employees discriminate against anyone because they may not be citizens of the United States. These are federal laws and applicable to all states unless there is a state law that is in direct conflict. There are local laws that have further expanded the scope of the anti-discrimination laws. For instance, California has a law wherein local law enforcement agencies cannot detain anyone on the basis of their immigration status. The immigrants cannot be asked if they are citizens or if their application for citizenship is pending. Unless a crime has been committed, immigrants cannot be detained for questioning or be harassed in any way.


Anyone who feels he or she has been discriminated against by an employer, which could be being denied a job or not being promoted for no other reason, being paid less than others for doing the same job or any kind of mistreatment at the workplace including verbal abuse, they can sue the employer under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The law also prohibits laying off immigrants prior to firing American citizens unless there is a legitimate ground of termination, such as performance. Immigrants cannot be asked for any special referral fee or any such favors to get employed. They must have the same opportunity as anyone else, regardless of their citizenship status. Immigration discrimination lawsuits not only empower noncitizens to get a job but they can also seek damages and punitive relief. They can also be reinstated in jobs they were fired from.


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