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Illegal immigration, illegal question: how firm ran afoul of E-Verify

When the federal E-Verify system, designed to stem illegal immigration, flagged a prospective employee, an Oregon company asked her for more documentation. That was a bad idea. 

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A home health-care company in Oregon has agreed to settle a federal complaint filed by a prospective employee who was asked to provide extra documentation after a check of the government’s E-Verify system raised questions about her eligibility to work.

As part of the settlement, the company, ComForcare In-Home Care & Senior Services, said it would pay the US government $1,210 in civil penalties, and compensate the prospective female employee for back pay of $525.

The offense: company officials asked her to produce additional immigration documents that she is not required to produce.

With an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, the E-Verify system is designed to help employers quickly and easily identify individuals who are authorized to work. It also provides companies a defense against charges that they hired illegal immigrants.

But the system also includes a rigid set of requirements about what can and cannot be requested of a prospective employee.

After the E-Verify system raised a red flag, officials with the Tigard, Ore.-based company refused to hire the woman unless she produced naturalization papers that would prove she could legally work in the US.

The woman, unidentified in a Justice Department release, was a newly naturalized citizen, a status not reflected in the government’s database.

The woman filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.


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