Many employers are aware of how administrative errors on the Form I-9 can lead to hefty fines and penalties incurred from a failed I-9 audit. Common employment eligibility verification mistakes often include:
- Inaccurate or missing information on the I-9
- Failure to comply with current Section 2 requirements for remote workers
- Improper storage and retention of I-9s and related documents
- Misuse of E-Verify
- Faulty rehiring and reverification
All of the errors above can land an organization in hot water during an I-9 inspection. However, employers should also be concerned with how they verify identification and work authorization documents to avoid unfair hiring practices and discrimination.
Recently the Department of Justice (DOJ), announced that it reached a settlement with a New York company and a West Coast affiliate that operate bakeries and retail boutiques. The settlement determines that the bakery and retailer violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against non-U.S. citizens during the employment verification and Form I-9 process.
The DOJ investigation began when a non-U.S. citizen complained that the company had refused to accept his valid document which provided his right to work, while also requesting additional unnecessary documents.
According to the settlement agreement, it was found that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of requesting that lawful permanent residents present a Permanent Resident Card (also known as a “Green Card”) for the Form I-9. They also requested more or different documents than necessary for the Form I-9.
Employees must provide documentation to their employers to show their identity and authorization to work. However, the practice of requesting specific documents or more documents than necessary during the I-9 process is a violation of U.S. law.
The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, prohibits four types of unlawful conduct:
- Unfair documentary practices
- Citizenship or immigration status discrimination in hiring, firing and recruiting
- National origin discrimination in hiring, firing and recruiting
- Retaliation or intimidation.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), enforces this law.
“Employers must verify that their employees have permission to work in the United States but cannot discriminate against them based on citizenship, immigration status or national origin when doing so,” stated Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
As a U.S. employer, you must allow employees to present whatever documentation they choose under the “List of Acceptable Documents” and must not reject valid documentation that reasonably appears to be genuine. Learn more about acceptable documents in our blog: Do you know your A,B, C’s.
Although the monetary settlement in this specific case can be considered minimal, the company was required to change its hiring practices, and is now under scrutiny. Hefty fines have been incurred for similar violations as discussed in our recent blog: Avoiding Discrimination During the I-9 Process.
There are so many Form I-9 legal requirements to stay on top of that it can often become overwhelming. Electronic I-9 compliance solutions can help to ease the burden of meeting these requirements by ensuring that each I-9 is completed accurately, on-time, and with proper documentation.
Discover how Clear I-9 can help you comply with all Form I-9 and E-Verify regulations and book a consultation today.