I advise companies every day on how to comply with IRCA, the 1986 immigration law that mandates using I-9s to verify employment authorization. Many employers are sloppy in their record keeping and don't pay enough attention to properly verifying identify and work authorization. So I'm often assisting companies in being more diligent about the process.

But there are other companies that go overboard and try to be too strict in complying with the rules. In their zealousness to weed out unauthorized immigrants, they end up asking for inappropriate documents or making other demands that cross the line in to discrimination. Two household retail giants in California are being sued for just that reason.

Download document_abuse_case_example.pdf

The two firms are accused of terminating two employees authorized to work. One is the beneficiary of the TPS program for people temporarily permitted to remain in the US and work legally when they happen to be here when a crisis develops in their home country (such as a war breaking out or a volcano erupting). The other is a US citizen who was improperly asked to provide documentation of her work status well after providing the necessary documentation when she completed an I-9 form at the time of her hire. Because she had sent her naturalization paperwork to the State Department in order to get a passport, she was unable to prove her citizenship and she was fired.

Obviously, these are just accusations and the companies may have a different version of the facts. But they do provide a lesson to employers that the I-9 process needs to be taken more seriously and good training is an absolute necessity to ensure that government enforcement actions are avoided and lawsuits are avoided.