Restaurant Law Blog

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Changes Proposed to Process of Confirming Employee Immigration Status

Why Can’t the Employee Screening Process Be Simplified?

A National Restaurant Association (NRA) representative told members of Congress that the increasing number of local and state employment verification laws and regulations have complicated the screening process for potential employees and exposed restaurant owners to increased legal liability. NRA senior vice president of labor and workforce policy, Angelo Amador, spoke at a February hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee of Immigration and Border Security, saying that the Legal Workforce Act, which the association supports, should preempt local laws and create a more streamlined system for verifying job candidates’ immigration status.

The proposed law would change the existing Immigration and Nationality Act to make mandatory and permanent the use of the federal electronic employment eligibility verification system, E-Verify. Amador testified:
“In the current system, employers are boxed in by federal regulations that, on one side, require them to conduct the I-9 (employment verification) process on every person they hire and, on the other side, limit their ability to question the validity of authorization and identity documents used during that process…Out of this frustration, and the frustration caused by the federal government’s inability to move forward on the issue, many states and localities have responded with a patchwork of employment verification laws. This new patchwork of immigration enforcement laws expose employers, who must deal with a broken legal structure, to unfair liability and the burden of numerous state and local laws.”

Many employers, including restaurants, voluntarily use E-Verify, which is designed to allow employers to determine the eligibility of potential employees to legally work in the country. The NRA surveyed nearly 800 of its members on this issue and found:
• 23 percent use the E-Verify system;
• 49 percent of “corporate-owned” restaurants use the system; and,
• Of those not using E-Verify, 62 percent stated the reason is a lack of human resources personnel to handle the process.

Amador gave the subcommittee suggestions on improving the E-Verify system. The ability to use E-Verify through the phone and standardized worker documents would make employment verification easier and decrease the use of fraudulent paperwork and forms by undocumented workers. He noted that more restaurant owners would adopt a simpler system if it became available.

If you own or manage a restaurant in the New York City area and have questions about employee documentation, call the restaurant law attorneys at the DiPasquale Law Group at (646)383-4607 today.

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