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Dealing With Amnesty Law

June 03, 1988

I was pleased to see your newspaper cover the work of the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration Related Employment Practices ("Provision of Amnesty Law Trips Up Some Employers," Part I, May 5). The task of getting the word out about the new civil rights protections in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 is an important challenge at the Office of Special Counsel. We appreciate press coverage because that's one of the best ways of educating the public as to their rights.

Because we assign such importance to educating the public, two potentially misleading points in the article concerned me. First, the article mentioned that our office has filed complaints "in just five of the 119 cases investigated." Some readers might infer from this that we've dismissed the other 114. In fact, of the remaining 114 charges, 29 are incomplete (by law, we must receive certain minimal information before we can even initiate an investigation), 50 are under investigation (we have 120 days to investigate a charge before deciding whether to file a complaint), and five have been settled after the injured parties were rehired or offered employment with back pay.

Incidentally, the article didn't mention that we've filed an additional three complaints based on our independent investigations. So the total number of complaints filed by our new office is eight, rather than five.

The second potentially misleading point concerns the settlement in the Farmer's Insurance case. The article said that under the terms of our settlement, Farmer's "promised to abide by the anti-discrimination law." That doesn't sound like much of a settlement. Fortunately, Farmer's agreed to do a lot more than that. It offered to rehire the injured party with full back pay and interest, and it agreed to publish a notice in all company personnel offices alerting employees to their rights under the new law. And contrary to the article, the injured party's counsel is not trying to "overturn" the settlement. Rather, counsel has filed a separate complaint to obtain attorney's fees and to impose a civil penalty on Farmer's.

I clarify these points because it's important for the public to know that we are enforcing this new law aggressively. Citizens and authorized aliens who have encountered discrimination should have confidence in our willingness and ability to protect their rights.

The Office of Special Counsel has lawyers fluent in English and Spanish to respond to any and all inquiries.

LAWRENCE J. SISKIND

Special Counsel

U.S. Department of Justice

Washington, D.C.

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