Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Sep 02, 2011

Specifying I-9 documentation is costly for company


The federal Department of Justice (DOJ) has been cracking down on employers who violate the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process, and a Missouri company is the latest to face penalties for alleged misconduct. According to the DOJ, the company was requiring all newly hired non-U.S. citizens to provide extra work authorization documents beyond what the law required. Also, the company allegedly specified which employment eligibility documents employees were allowed to present. The company reached an agreement with the DOJ, agreeing to pay $290,400 in civil penalties, which represents the largest settlement of this kind since enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination law in 1986.


Tips: Employers are often caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to employment eligibility verification. On the one hand, you have an obligation to ensure that the people you hire are authorized to work in this country, but on the other hand you can’t discriminate against people by going beyond what’s required under the law. The best solution is to let the Form I-9 be your guide. Give employees the list of acceptable documents and allow them to choose which ones to present to verify their employment. Stay away from even suggesting which documents to bring in. For example, saying “Most people bring in their Social Security card and driver’s license” could be viewed as telling people which documents they need to provide. For more information about your responsibilities, see our Legal Guide “At a Glance: Form I-9” (5486) and the federal government's “Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9.”

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.