The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced another recent settlement with an employer for document abuse during the I-9 process. A former employee of Garland Sales, Inc., filed a complaint with the DOJ Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Discrimination after he was terminated from employment for refusing to provide his employer with the specific documentation it requested for completion of his I-9 form.
The complainant was a naturalized U.S. citizen of Hispanic origin. For completion of his I-9, he provided an unexpired driver’s license (List B) and an unrestricted social security card (list C). Garland accepted these, but also requested that he provide his green card, to prove that he was legal to work in the United States. When the worker objected, Garland terminated his employment.
The documentation the employee presented were absolutely sufficient for I-9 purposes, therefore Garland committed document abuse when it requested more and different documents than what was required for the I-9 form. The employee was well within his rights to refuse to provide the additional document, and in fact would not have even had a green card in his possession because he had already become a US Citizen.
In an effort to make sure that they are doing everything possible not to hire an undocumented worker, employers sometimes go beyond what is allowable during the I-9 process. Unfortunately this has negative consequences as well, as shown by the settlement Garland reached with DOJ, which included a civil money penalty, back wages and retraining of all workers involved in the I-9 process.
In addition, it is much more likely now that Garland will be subject to an I-9 audit by ICE and repeated reviews of its I-9 and hiring practices by the DOJ. The best way to avoid these long term consequences is to ensure that hiring, I-9 and E-Verify processes are fair and non-discriminatory in nature. As the DOJ campaign says “Look at the Facts, Not the Faces.”
For more on acceptable I-9 procedures, review the DOJ's Guide to Fair Employment.