Most employers in the U.S. have a legal obligation to verify the identity and work eligibility of everyone they hire. To do so, they complete and retain form I-9. This is the form your employer probably asked you to complete when you started work.
Federal law also prohibits most employers from discriminating against workers because of their citizenship status or national origin. If your employer uses the I-9 process in an impermissible or discriminatory way, you may have an actionable claim. This may happen in three ways.
1. Requiring specific documents
The I-9’s instructions expressly list the acceptable documents you may provide to satisfy the form’s requirements. You may offer one document from List A or one document from List B plus one from List C. If your employer requires specific, additional or different documents, you likely have no legal obligation to provide them.
2. Reverifying work eligibility
Some workers have temporary work authorization, while others have the permanent and unrestricted right to work legally in the U.S. If you fall into the latter category and have continuous employment, your employer likely cannot ask you to reverify work eligibility. This is probably true even if the documents you originally provided have expired.
3. Using E-Verify inconsistently
Some employers participate in the federal government’s E-Verify program. This program compares the information you provide on your I-9 with data in government databases. If your employer uses E-Verify on you and not on other workers, you may be the victim of discrimination.
Ultimately, both the I-9 and E-Verify may give employers peace of mind that they are employing only legally authorized workers. Still, if your employer does not follow the rules, you may have to act quickly to protect your legal rights and save your job.