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New enforcement rule issued by the Department of Justice

Texas employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of their national origin. This type of discrimination sometimes occurs during the hiring process when workers are asked to submit additional documents beyond what is needed in order to prove their authorization to work. In late December, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a final rule regarding this issue.

The new rule clarifies the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provisions. The office that is tasked with enforcement of unfair practices has been renamed as the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section. It is headed by a special counsel who is granted the authority to prosecute companies that the counsel believes have violated the anti-discrimination provisions

The rule details the time computation for filing claims as well as which entities are covered. Workers who are protected under the rule include asylees, refugees, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The rule adopts the intent requirement for discriminatory practices and applies to recruitment, completing I-9s, onboarding, interviewing and E-verify. Employers who discriminate based on an applicant or employee's national origin or citizenship status may be held to be liable under the final rule. It becomes effective on Jan. 18.

People who exercise their workers' rights also may not be retaliated against by their employers for doing so. Retaliation includes any negative job action that results. People who have been discriminated against based on their national origin or citizenship status may want to consult with an employment law attorney who may assess the situation to determine whether a prohibited activity occurred.

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