140,000 reasons to complete I-9 forms correctly

by Michael Haberman on March 29, 2017 · 0 comments


This is the title of the page that names the documents that a new hire must be allowed to choose from to prove their right to work in the U.S.

You would think that since the I-9 form, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification form, has been around since 1986 people would have read it and understood the provisions surrounding its use. Apparently that is not the case.

Acceptable documents

When bringing on a new hire there is a list of documents that are acceptable to prove that the new hire has the legal right to work in the United States. This changes every time the I-9 is revised so you should be using the current form, found here.

If you read the form it specifically says:

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION NOTICE: It is illegal to discriminate against work-authorized individuals. Employers CANNOT specify which document(s) an employee may present to establish employment authorization and identity. The refusal to hire or continue to employ an individual because the documentation presented has a future expiration date may also constitute illegal discrimination. (My emphasis)

An expensive mistake

The U.S. Department of Justice fined a pizza restaurant franchisee with 31 locations in Miami, Florida for requiring some of its new hires to produce a specific form of identification. According to the press release:

“[The company] routinely requested that lawful permanent residents produce a specific document – a Permanent Resident Card – to prove their work authorization, while not requesting a specific document from U.S. citizens. Lawful permanent residents often have the same work authorization documents available to them as U.S. citizens, and may choose acceptable documents other than a Permanent Resident Card to prove they are authorized to work. The antidiscrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on citizenship or national origin.”

As a result of this requirement the company must pay a civil penalty of $140,000 to the United States, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, train their human resources personnel, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements. That means they will be on a watch list for the future.

Don’t make that mistake

The I-9 form is nothing to fool around with. Making this mistake, or not getting the proper identification, or getting too much documentation, or not putting the information on the right line, or not signing the forms can cost you money, up to $1100 per form. If you think how many forms you collects during the year(s) that can be quite a financial burden.


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