It’s So Nice to Meet You, Now Tell Me About Your Upcoming Surgery...
First dates can be challenging. Do you really need to know about your date's surgery at this stage of the game? Definitely not. (In fact, you may never need that knowledge.) Yet, you do need SOME information. The key is to strike the right balance between requesting too much and asking about everything under the sun.
The same concept applies to new hires. Certain information is needed in order to complete the newly released and required I-9 form. But did you know that asking for additional documentation “just to be on the safe side” can land you in hot water? It can be deemed discrimination to ask for additional forms or documentation above and beyond what is required to complete the employee’s I-9. If you ask for it from people you are assuming may not be U.S. residents, you are singling them out. This could get you a visit from a government official investigating your unfair immigration-related hiring practices—not a visit anyone wants to add to their calendar. So, how does one assure I-9 forms are filled out properly without committing any federal offenses in the process? Here are some pointers:
- If an employee offers you sufficient documentation to prove his or her identity and employment eligibility, do not ask for more. A passport or green card is not necessary if the employee has already proven his or her identity and eligibility.
- Treat all candidates the same. Ask for what you need—nothing more, nothing less.
- Use the documents you are given. If the documents appear non-genuine, the employer may ask the employee for additional documentation and should not employ the person if he or she is unable to comply. Refrain from re-verifying an I-9 unless deemed truly necessary.
- If you use E-Verify and receive a non-confirmation, do not jump to conclusions before you investigate the issue. Federal contractors should not even be using E-Verify to check employment eligibility for existing staff.
- Prior to hiring a person, do not probe to see if he or she has proper documentation, and do not let your doubts about producing such documents affect your decision to offer employment.
- Do not try to “cover your bases” and simply require all applicants to be U.S. citizens or English-speaking.
- Be sure anyone in your company that makes hiring decisions is aware of the dangers of not complying with these practices.
As an employer in this country, remember to exercise caution when asking for documentation regarding I-9s and use fair practices when re-verifying. Neglect in this area could cost you penalties or litigation. For assistance with this and other Human Resources issues, contact McCloskey Partners today at (215) 453-1978 (phone); (215) 220-3422 (fax); www.mccloskeypartners.com; or firstname.lastname@example.org.