California employers face new penalties for I-9 violations

25 Oct 16

UNITED STATES

A California law that takes effect next year prohibits employers from asking for additional documents beyond federal law requirements in the Form I-9 document verification process.

Key points:

  • The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Under the law, California employers are prohibited from requesting more or different documents than required by federal law.
  • The law also prohibits employers from refusing to honor documents that reasonably appear to be genuine on their face or refusing documents because they contain a specified status or term of status accompanying the work authorization.
  • Employers are also prohibited from attempting to re-verify an existing employee’s document using an unfair immigration-related practice.
  • Employers who violate provisions of the law may be liable for up to $10,000 per violation.

Background: The law, SB 1001, is intended to address immigration-related discrimination in the I-9 employment eligibility verification process. California law already prohibits employers from requesting additional I-9 documents in retaliation for an employee’s exercise of protected rights. The new law addresses similar acts of discrimination in the hiring process.

Under the new law, an aggrieved job applicant or employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, who may impose fines up to $10,000 per violation and equitable relief.

BAL Analysis: California employers should be aware of the new law and review their I-9 procedures. Among the concerns that the law addresses, employers are prohibited from refusing an employment authorization document (EAD) based on the holder’s status (such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  or other status) or one that has a specified duration (such as an expiration date). BAL can assist employers in conducting a review and compliance audit of their I-9 policies.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact BerryApplemanLeiden@balglobal.com.

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