One of the new labor laws going into effect on January 1, 2017 gives immigrant job applicants a potent new weapon to sue their employer for stiff penalties for committing specified Unfair Immigration Related Practices when securing or updating I-9 Forms.
The new law addresses two common practices: (i) so-called "document abuse" and (ii) over documentation. Document abuse occurs when an employer insists that the applicant provide specified documents instead of permitting the applicant to choose which of the authorized documents he or she wishes to present in support of the I-9 Form. Over documentation is when an employer requires that the applicant submit more documents than are legally required by the Form I-9.
Governor Jerry Brown approved a law that would expand these prohibitions and create a first of its kind state law remedy for this violation. Under the new law, it is unlawful for an employer to do any of the following:
- request more or different documents than required under federal law to verify eligibility;
- to refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine;
- refuse to honor documents or work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work; or
- attempt to re-investigate or re-verify an incumbent employee's authorization to work using an unfair immigration practice.
Any applicant or employee who is subjected to any of these unlawful acts may now file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (aka Labor Commissioner's Office).The Labor Commissioner is authorized to award a penalty up to $10,000 per violation.
The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2017. Going forward, employers must ensure that managers and others who are tasked with completing the I-9 process are trained on these new requirements so they do not unwittingly committing an unfair immigration practice.
If you have any questions about this article, please contact any member of the Firm. We can be reached at (818) 508-3700, or online at www.brgslaw.com.