Kelly Services, Inc., a Michigan staffing company, recently reached a settlement with the Department of Justice for discrimination related I-9 violations. The violations occurred when the company terminated an individual’s employment after he did not provide additional documentation during the employment eligibility re-verification process. The employee produced a valid, unrestricted Social Security Card, but the company requested additional documentation from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found the termination to be unlawful discrimination, and the employer agreed to pay almost $2000 in lost wages, and a $1,100 civil penalty. Kelly Services will also be required to undergo training on anti-discrimination under U.S. immigration law.
Over-documentation (i.e. requesting more documentation than is necessary from an employee) is a common, albeit paradoxical, I-9 violation. Employers who over-document tend to do so because they are being extra cautious about hiring only work authorized employees. However, requesting more documentation than necessary constitutes discrimination and is a serious violation of immigration law. It is therefore imperative that employers consult with immigration counsel so as to ensure they are requesting no more and no less than what is required to verify work authorization.