Employee Risk Management: Do Your I-9s Pass the Test?
Employers, do you know your liability related to your I-9s? As required by federal law, each one of your employees (hired after November 2006) must have a properly completed I-9 in their file to establish he is authorized to work for your company.
More than ever, the government is inspecting U.S. employer’s records to determine if they are in compliance with our nation’s immigration laws. Fiscal Year 2011 was a record year for worksite enforcement. Over 2,000 employers were audited by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE” ). These ICE audits, also known as “silent raids,” have been sweeping through the country as an enforcement strategy to review company I-9s and identify any undocumented workers. Employers should be aware of the risks of being out of immigration compliance.
To target businesses, ICE conducts investigations of employers. If an employer is investigated by ICE, the employer has 72 hours to turn over its I-9s and related employment documents to ICE.
By law, employers cannot “knowingly” hire or continue to employ individuals without employment authorization. Knowledge can be either actual or constructive. Constructive knowledge is what a reasonable person would know. For example, an employer may be out of compliance if it:
- Fails to complete or improperly completes an I-9;
- Has information available that puts them on notice;
- Continues to employ an employee without looking into suspicious information; or
- Acts with reckless disregard.