“New California Law Targets Immigration Document Abuse”

10/24/2016
SHRM


“A new addition to California's labor code reinforces protections for workers from discrimination based on immigration status.

“The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, makes it unlawful for an employer to request more or different documents than are required under federal law, to refuse to honor documents that reasonably appear to be genuine, or to refuse to honor documents or work authorization based on a specific status. California law already prohibits document abuse if it is retaliatory, but the sponsors of the legislation believed that the hiring process was not covered and that federal protections against document abuse were insufficient.

“…The California Labor Commissioner may impose a penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

“Document abuse occurs when an employer deters a worker from using documents that are legally acceptable for the Form I-9 and instead specifies which documents he or she must use or requests more documents than are required.

“…The law "upholds responsible business practices and ensures employment authorized workers do not face unnecessary, illegal hurdles when seeking employment," said Jon Rodney…

“…[Ann] Cun noted that employers may choose not to employ individuals who will require employer-sponsorship of a work visa (such as an H-1B visa) and may even show preference for certain classes of guest workers over other classes of guest workers. But employers must be careful not to discriminate in pre-employment questioning.

“…Cun recommended employers carefully evaluate the questions asked during pre-employment screening and consult with an immigration attorney to help design a hiring policy that is in compliance with both federal and California rules.”

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