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Justice Department issues final anti-discrimination rule

A new rule will go into effect on Jan. 18, 2017. Issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, it concerns the enforcement of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provisions. It is important for New York employers and employees to understand its provisions.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the rule will apply to refugees, asylees, lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens. Employers are not allowed to require extra documentation from workers to prove their work authorization than the documents that on their face show that the workers have legal authority to work. The rule covers all aspects of hiring, including interviewing, completing I-9s and E-Verify requirements.

The Department of Justice received and answered 47 comments before finalizing the rule. The rule renames certain sections of the act to more accurately reflect their purposes. It also defines how time is computed for filing claims and processing them. It provides the special counsel with the authority to pursue enforcement actions on his or her own if he or she has evidence that an employer has violated the anti-discrimination provisions as they are defined under the law. The rule is meant to help enforce anti-discrimination efforts based on the real or perceived national origins of applicants and workers.

National origin discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers who violate the law by discriminating against applicants or workers because of their national origins may be held liable if the workers file complaints against them within the required 180-day period. An employment law attorney may advise a client about how the deadline is computed and whether there are grounds for a formal claim.

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