U.S. Department of Justice Cautions Employers to Ensure that Electronic I-9 Systems Comply with I-9 Requirements

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In a recent meeting between the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the OSC cautioned that employers should not rely on electronic I-9 systems to avoid liability in the employment eligibility verification context. Citing the Macy’s Settlement Agreement from June 2013, in which the retail giant was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $175,000 and create a back pay fund of $100,000, the largest such settlement reached by the OSC, the OSC stated that this was a case of document abuse and the use of technology. Because Macy’s electronic I-9 system limited the employee’s choice of I-9 documents that could be presented and required more or different I-9 documents from individuals based on immigration status or national origin, the OSC concluded that Macy’s committed unfair documentary practices in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The OSC warned employers that despite the move to an online I-9 environment and process, it is their responsibility to thoroughly vet the electronic I-9 product and ensure its compliance with I-9 requirements.

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