July 18, 2013
By Neal Tepel
The Justice Department has announced that the Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Labor Relations Board, formalizing a collaborative relationship that allows both agencies to share information, refer matters to each other and coordinate investigations as appropriate.
OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee, as well as discriminatory Form I-9 and E-Verify practices. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the rights of most private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.
The MOU will allow the NLRB to make referrals to OSC, with the express authority of the NLRB charging party, when a matter before the NLRB suggests a possible violation of the anti-discrimination provision, based on citizenship status or national origin. Similarly, the department will refer matters to the NLRB that appear to fall within that agency’s authority, such as infringement on the right to form, join, decertify or assist a labor organization, and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing or to refrain from such activities.
The MOU also provides for cross-training and technical assistance to ensure that staff within each agency can identify appropriate referrals. OSC has more than 50 partnership agreements with federal, state and local agencies, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“Employers cannot avoid liability under the law just because an employee has turned to the wrong agency or is unaware of additional protections available under a different law. Employees deserve to benefit from the efficiency of government cooperation, and employers will continue to benefit from agency guidance on how to comply with the anti-discrimination provision and the National Labor Relations Act,” said Gregory Friel, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.