Verifying Employee Status Can be Tricky - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

12.14.06

Verifying Employee Status Can be Tricky

Right now Swift & Co. is not being criminally charged for employing potential illegal workers.
   One Amarillo employment attorney says it's because they did nothing wrong.
  

 Newschannel 10's Marissa Bagg explains how difficult it is for companies to ensure they are hiring legal employees. 
 

Although there are strict laws when it comes to the hiring process in Texas, it's not fool-proof. 

Laws allow 29 forms of identification for employees to use and sometimes it's difficult to know for sure if they are valid.  
"Most businesses are trying their best to hire people eligible to work in the United States. There are people who slip through the cracks," says Vicki Wilmarth, a employment attorney.
  

Everyone is familiar with the I-9 form required at any job.  You have to offer up anything from a social security card to a voter's registration card, or a U.S. passport.
   

The problem is false versions of these documents are looking more like originals. "Sometimes you get documentation that's not accurate and it's not easy for an employers to know that, it's like counterfeit currency, don't always know it's counterfeit, some of it's really good," says Wilmarth.
  

So good, employers have to perform numerous background checks to make sure those they hire are legal. And they have to do that without violating discrimination laws.
"Employers have to be careful they aren't too strict and discriminating against people and also make sure people can work in the United States, it's a tightrope employers have to walk," says Wilmarth.

Wilmarth says employers are doing what they can to ensure potential workers are legal. She says the government can help them by going after those who supply immigrants with fake identities.

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