GETTING UNCLE SAM TO ENFORCE YOUR CIVIL RIGHTS
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES —IMMIGRATION-RELATED EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION
The Constitution protects, to some extent, people in the United States who are not citizens from arbitrary denial of rights.
Discrimination in employment, education, and social services are some areas of concern to noncitizens.
If you are discriminated against in employment based on citizenship or immigration status, you may file a complaint at the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices of the Department of Justice within 180 days of the discriminatory action if you are a:
legal permanent resident who filed for citizenship within 6 months of becoming eligible;
legal temporary resident;
You are also protected against national origin discrimination, a refusal to accept proper identity papers or a work authorization or both, or unlawful retaliation, as in hiring, recruitment, referral for a fee, or discharge.
Citizenship discrimination covers employers with four or more employees. If you are discriminated against based on nationality (place of birth, appearance, accent, or language), you should send a complaint to:
U.S. Department of
Civil Rights Division
Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
TTY: (800) 255-8155
Employer hot line: (800) 255-8155
Employee hot line: (800) 255-7688
Fax: (202) 616-5509
The Office of Special Counsel handles cases of discrimination based on citizenship by employers with four or more employees, and national origin discrimination committed by employers with four to 14 employees. Citizenship discrimination complaints may also be sent to a district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Lack of citizenship discrimination is not always a basis for a complaint of illegal discrimination, since the hiring of illegal aliens is prohibited.
Recent changes in welfare and immigration laws have shifted the administration of need-based social programs and Medicaid to the states. These changes now allow states to withhold assistance from persons who are not citizens, subject to certain exemptions for refugees or asylees who have resided in the U.S. for 5 years or less; aliens serving or who have served in the military (and their spouses and dependent children); and permanent legal residents who have worked lawfully in the U.S. for at least 10 years. In addition, the new laws make permanent legal residents ineligible to receive food stamps or SSI assistance, unless they have lawfully worked in the U.S. for at least 10 years.
To find out what benefits you may be eligible to receive, contact your state’s Department of Human Services or the proper office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Regardless of citizenship status, if you believe you or your child has been discriminated against by a public elementary or secondary school, you should contact the U.S. Department of Education.