American employers have a legal obligation to ensure that their employees can lawfully work in the United States. Employers who violate this duty can be subject to fines and other penalties. It is important for employers to understand their responsibilities in this area, to ensure compliance and prevent problems that interfere with the profitable operation of their businesses. Speak to our Cook County I-9 compliance attorneys today.
An Employment Eligibility Verification (also known as an I-9) is a form issued by the federal government. Since 1986, employers must complete and retain these forms any time a new employee is hired in the United States. Employers must also verify the employee’s identity and employment authorization. This can be done with documents such as a social security card, proof of permanent residency (a “green card”) or passport.
In meeting these immigration obligations, there are a few important points employers must be aware of. When confirming an employee’s authorization to work in the United States, an employer cannot discriminate on the basis of national origin or immigration status (including citizenship). An employer also cannot retaliate against an employee (or prospective employee) who files a complaint with the Department of Justice. Anti-discrimination laws provide a variety of whistleblower protections, and employers must be sure to respect these rights.
An employer also cannot specify certain documents to prove an employee’s identity if the ones presented are valid, demand more documents or reject documents that reasonably appear to be genuine. It can be difficult to meet these requirements while also meeting the obligation to confirm the employee’s identity. An immigration attorney can help your business develop appropriate procedures for accepting only appropriate immigration documents.
Employers can face penalties if they:
These penalties include fines (which can accrue to significant amounts). Employers can also be barred from government contracts and face other administrative penalties such as this. If there is a pattern of hiring, recruiting, or referring immigrants without permission to work in the U.S., the employer can even face criminal penalties. A court may also order civil remedies, such as back pay, hiring an individual who was discriminated against, or posting a bond to indemnify the employer against future violations of employment verification.
These consequences can be avoided if your business has a clear policy for complying with employment verification. An immigration lawyer can help develop a simple policy for all hiring managers to follow in making employment decisions and verifying the employment eligibility of all new employees. The investment of attorney’s fees can save your business-extensive fines and penalties in the future.
The experienced Chicago immigration lawyers at Minsky, McCormick and Hallagan have helped many employers stay compliant with their immigration responsibilities. Contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you have a comprehensive compliance program in place, the better protected your business will be from liability.