U visa forms may be discoverable: sexual harassment and immigration

Sexual harassment claims are difficult for any employer, but with the added dimension of immigration status, they can become even more complex to resolve. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently reached a settlement in a long-running case involving allegations by the employer that the employees’ sexual harassment claims were falsely motivated by a desire to obtain special immigrant visas, known as U visas.

The U visa category was created with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. It provides a temporary visa (up to four years) for undocumented victims of qualifying crimes who suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and fully cooperate in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime. Its purpose is to strengthen the ability of governmental agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens, and other crimes while also protecting certain undocumented victims.

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