Joel manages a garden center. He needs to hire a few extra hands to help with the extra customers shopping for mums, pumpkins and gourds in the fall. After interviewing a woman named Martha, he decides to add her to his team.
Martha arrives for her first day. Joel gives her an apron, a nametag and a small stack of paperwork she needs to fill out before her training begins. As Martha begins reading through the papers, Joel asks if she remembered to bring the documents he needs to review for her Form I-9. It slipped her mind, Martha says. Joel checks in with Martha about the documents the next day, but once again, she says she forgot her passport at home.
It’s been three days since Martha’s start date at the garden center, and Joel still hasn’t seen any of the documents he needs to complete her Form I-9. He really needs the help, but he remembers the instructor from his management training stressed the importance of the form.
Joel’s instinct is a good one. The Form I-9 was created in 1986 as a way for employers to verify an employee’s authorization to work in the U.S, according to Raymond Lahoud, partner at Norris McLaughlin. Until the current administration, "the Form I-9 has been just another form," Lahoud said. "As a whole, in the past, employers have not paid as much attention as they should to the process. Some employers — you’d be shocked — their whole workforce could be undocumented."
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