Document Abuse vs. Hiring Illegal Aliens

Author: Hans & Associates, P.C.

According to a New York Times article  quoting the Pew Hispanic Center, about 20 percent of the nearly 2.6 million chefs, head cooks and cooks in the restaurant industry are illegal immigrants. PEW also estimates 28 percent of the 360,000 dishwashers are also undocumented. Yet restaurant owners have a fine line to walk because many illegal immigrants have fake Social Security cards, green cards, identity cards or other false documentation. A restaurant owner has no way of knowing for sure whether the individual is illegal or not unless the government audits the business’s I-9  forms to verify authenticity.

The other side of the coin is that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from discriminating against immigrants when hiring, firing or recruiting. In addition, employers may be brought up on discrimination charges alleging “document abuse” if they question the immigrant’s documents or require more documentation than the law requires. The law only requires immigrants to provide employers with any one of a number of certain documents, such as the following:

  • An expired or unexpired U.S. passport
  • A green card (permanent resident card)
  • An unexpired Employment Authorization Document with photo
  • A state identification card along with an unrestricted Social Security card

By requiring more documents than a Form I-9 requires or not accepting documents listed in the I-9, an immigrant an employer is at risk for a document abuse or discrimination lawsuit.

Hans & Associates, P.C. helps restaurant owners and other businesses deal with legal issues such as this one. For decades, firm founder, Stephen Hans has helped businesses put proper compliances in place and resolve disputes effectively and affordably outside of court.


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