Employers Pay Substantial Fines For Immigration Document Abuse

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In the current climate of high immigration worksite enforcement, most U.S. employers carefully check workers’ eligibility for employment, using the required I-9 form. But some employers are paying a price for checking their workers in a manner that does not comply with federal law. These employers fail to realize that the Federal government not only targets its workplace enforcement efforts against employers who fail to check work eligibility documents; the government also targets employers who discriminate against lawful workers by asking for specific documents, or by asking for too many documents.

On May 16, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Maricopa County Community College in Arizona had agreed to pay $45,760 in civil penalties and $22,123 in back pay to settle a lawsuit filed after foreign workers were asked for too much documentation when they were hired by the College. On December 28, 2011, DOJ announced that defense contractor BAE Systems Ship Repair Inc. had agreed to pay $53,900 because its Alabama subsidiary had been requiring all newly hired lawful permanent residents to present permanent resident cards, commonly known as “green cards,” as a condition of employment. According to federal worksite verification regulations, employers cannot demand that lawful permanent residents present “green cards;” it is up to the employees to decide which documents they will present to verify their eligibility to work. A green card holder may present a driver’s license and Social Security card, among other documents, to satisfy the federal requirements.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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