The U.S. Department of Justice forged an agreement this week 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.

“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,” Gregory Friel, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

The July 8 memorandum of understanding allows the NLRB to refer cases to the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) when a matter appears to be discriminatory based on citizenship status or national origin, for example.

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.

Likewise, the Justice Department will be able to refer matters to the NLRB under the NLRB's authority, such as infringement on the rights of employees to form or join a labor organization, and to bargain collectively.

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.