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Watch for discrimination when completing your I-9

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Few things are more exciting than landing a new job. This is especially true if you have been looking for a position for a long time. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) requires most employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of new hires. To do so, your employer will likely ask you to complete an I-9 form. 

While the I-9 may seem like a simple paperwork requirement, it can provide an easy way for your new employer to discriminate against you. As such, you must be careful to protect your rights when you complete your new-hire paperwork. If you think your employer has engaged in discriminatory practices, you may need to exercise your legal right to pursue a claim

Employers cannot require specific documents 

Assuming your new company has at least four employees, the organization must comply with IRCA. Because that law prohibits knowingly employing unauthorized workers, your employer must verify you have legal authorization to work in the United States. As such, your hiring manager will likely hand you an I-9 to complete. 

The first section of the form asks you to certify you have the legal eligibility to work in the country. That is, you must attest you are either a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident or someone who has another type of work authorization. The form’s second section requires your employer to view certain documents that prove both your identity and work authorization. 

Generally, employers print the list of acceptable documents on the back of the I-9 form. Even if yours does not, you should ask to see the list. Then, you may choose which documents you want to provide. You may pick one document from list A, or a combination of one document from list B and one from list C. The choice is up to you, but you do not need to provide more documentation than the law requires. 

Employers may ask for other documents in certain situations 

A U.S. passport is a List A document, so it satisfies the requirements of the I-9. As such, your employer may not ask you to provide additional documents, such as a driver’s license or Social Security card. You should know, however, that your employer may legally request these documents for other lawful purposes. For example, your employer may want to see your Social Security card to properly process payroll. Also, if your employer uses E-Verify, you may need to provide additional documentation. 

There may be a clear violation of federal anti-discrimination law if your employer requests additional documents for I-9 purposes. If your employer refuses to let you work until you offer these, you may have a valid discrimination claim. Speak with an employment law attorney if you believe you are a victim of discrimination.

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