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Employers pay big for making up own I-9 document requirements

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in Employment Background Check,Human Resources

Employers must walk a fine line when verifying employees’ eligibility to work.

Take too lax an approach to reviewing identity documents for the purpose of completing I-9 forms and you could run afoul of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

But as two employers learned in April, imposing overly rigorous document requirements on workers can violate the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Potter Concrete and the El Rancho grocery store chain, both located in Texas, separately agreed to settle Department of Justice charges that they illegally required noncitizens to submit specific Department of Homeland Security documents for I-9 purposes. Meanwhile, other workers got to choose what documentation to provide.

The companies were also accused of selectively running suspected noncitizens through the government’s E-Verify online employment eligibility verification site.

Potter Concrete will pay $115,000 in civil penalties, while El Rancho must fork over $40,500.

Advice: Avoid the I-9 documentation trap that snared these employers:

  • Do review employees’ documents to make sure they are on Form I-9’s list of acceptable documents and to make sure they appear genuine.
  • Don’t ask the employee for any particular documents or more documents than required by the I-9. The employee chooses the documents, not you.

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