Know Your Rights - Employment Discrimination Protections for Refugees and Asylees

Know Your Rights - Employment Discrimination Protections for Refugees and Asylees (pdf - 260.86 KB)

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This information comes from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, which seeks to prevent immigration-related unfair employment practices.


Protections from employment discrimination for refugees and asylees

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), part of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, which may apply to you.  The anti-discrimination provision protects employees against discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruiting or referring for a fee based on citizenship or immigration status or based on national origin; discriminatory documentary practices in the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9 and E-Verify) process; and from retaliation.  The statute protects refugees, immigrants, and other work-authorized individuals from national origin discrimination by employers with between four and 14 employees, and from citizenship status discrimination by employers with four or more employees. 

Refugees and asylees, as newcomers with unique work authorization documents, frequently experience unfair employment actions, such as: 

  • Termination from employment when Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) expire.
  • Rejection of valid work authorization documents, such as unrestricted Social Security cards.
  • Employers demanding to see a work authorization document with an expiration date.
  • Delay in hiring for weeks or months while waiting for a Social Security card.
  • Employer rejection of Form I-94 as a valid List A receipt for refugees or a valid List C employment authorization document for asylees, for I-9 purposes.

In addition, refugees and asylees as well as their employers are confused about the documents the U.S. government issues them.  Many refugees and asylees are reluctant to exercise rights because of negative experiences  in their country of origin.

How can OSC help?

  • OSC offers training to workers and advocates on protections against employment discrimination based on immigration or citizenship status, or based on national origin.
  • OSC accepts formal charges of employment-related discrimination.
  • OSC operates a toll-free hotline.  Through its hotline, OSC can often help save workers’ jobs and educate employers about nondiscriminatory practices. 

OSC’s employee hotline is 1-800-255-7688 (V), 800-237-2515 (TTY) and language interpretation is always available.  If you are interested in attending a training webinar or scheduling an in-person presentation, please visit OSC’s webinar page on its website ( or call OSC’s main number at (202) 616-5594 and ask to speak with OSC’s public affairs specialist.  Informational flyers, instructions on how to file a charge of discrimination, and a charge form available in several languages can also be found on OSC’s website,