Nelson Law Group
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How can you protect immigrant employees from discrimination?

Immigration issues continue to make headline news all over the country -- with some areas arguably being hit harder than others. If your workforce includes immigrants of any kind, is there anything you can do to protect those employees from discrimination based on their background?

Absolutely. It's important to realize that a lot of discrimination against immigrants is tied to their ethnic background or citizenship status -- and you want to avoid the appearance of remotely condoning that kind of behavior from your managers or other employees. Here's how you can do it.

Educate your employees about immigrant's rights

Your hiring managers cannot make decisions regarding an employee or potential employee based on citizenship or stage of immigration. If someone has authorization to work in the United States, it does not matter if he or she is a permanent or temporary resident, here on asylum or present as a refugee.

In addition, your hiring managers cannot require any citizenship or immigration documentation from employees of one ethnic group that it doesn't require from another. In other words, despite all the focus on Hispanic immigrants these days, make sure that your managers don't go overboard with their attempts to avoid I-9 compliance issues.

Make it clear that you support all your employees

If you are concerned about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents knocking on your door, the smart thing to do is have an action plan in place. Communicating as much to your employees also helps foster the understanding that you do not discriminate between your employees.

You can take the following steps:

  • Talk to local legal services about what the appropriate response is if ICE is knocking on the door.
  • Train your employees not to allow ICE agents to enter restricted areas (past the lobby or other areas where customers are allowed) without a warrant.
  • Let you employees know that they do not need to speak with agents. All they need to say is, "Talk to my employer."

These days, the legal landscape for employees and employers alike is pretty rocky where immigration is concerned. You want to do everything in your power to nip workplace discrimination in the bud and make it clear that your company treats all employees equally.

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