The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has made headlines in recent years recent with its raids of large and small companies investigating violations of laws regarding the hiring of unauthorized workers. DHS has imposed criminal sanctions, including significant fines on these companies, as well as their owners and officers, for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers and also for simple paperwork violations regarding the Employment Verification Form, Form I-9. The potential for liability and the possible sanctions for these violations can be reduced with appropriate training and internal audits.
Since November 6, 1986, all employers in the U.S. have been required by federal law to maintain Form I-9 for each employee, verifying the employee’s identity and ability to work in the U.S. Employers are obligated to review original documents of identity and authorization when completing Form I-9. At the same time, employers are prohibited from discriminating against new hires or applicants by insisting that only certain documents be used to establish identity and authorization, or by refusing to hire anyone other than a U.S. citizen. Employers must have the same procedures for all employees, regardless of nationality or citizenship.