If you have more than four employees, you probably have a legal obligation to verify the identities and legal work authorization of all your new hires. This requirement comes from a 1986 federal law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
The I-9 process can seem paradoxical, as it requires you not to employ workers who cannot prove their identity and legal work authorization. Still, you cannot discriminate against workers because of their race, religion, national origin, citizenship status or other protected reasons.
Treat all employees the same way
Arguably, the most effective way to avoid illegal employment discrimination during the I-9 process is to treat all employees the same way. That is, you should not target certain workers or add additional verification requirements. You should also provide all new employees with I-9 instructions.
Do not ask for specific documents
To make your work life easier, it can be tempting to require new employees to present their driver’s licenses and social security cards. This may violate the law, though. Therefore, you should give employees the List of Acceptable Documents that accompanies the I-9 form.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as long as your employees give you an acceptable document or a combination of acceptable documents, you probably should accept their submissions.
Allow sufficient time
While new employees must complete the first section of their I-9 forms by the end of their first day of employment, they usually have three days to provide you with documentation. Consequently, you must allow sufficient time for workers to track down I-9 documents.
Ultimately, by closely following the I-9’s instructions, you can avoid a potentially costly discrimination complaint.