Think that maintaining properly vetted I-9 forms on your employees isn’t that big a deal?

The answer –it is a big deal–has been driven home forcefully to management at Columbia Farms in Columbia, S.C.

After an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in 2008 discovered hundreds of illegal immigrants working at the poultry plant, most of the workers were deported, dozens of others were tried and sentenced to jail time for using fake documents, and two of the farms’ managers were criminally charged.

The two managers escaped the noose, so to speak, when the company recently agreed to a $1.5 million plea agreement that will require the accused to undergo training. The company itself, in agreeing to reform its hiring practice to legal standards and enroll in the E-Verify program, also must hire an on-site compliance officer and contract with an external auditing firm to monitor its employment practices.

The I-9 form from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required of all new hires and is used to verify their legal status to work in the United States through the submission of identifying documents. E-Verify is a voluntary online program that can be used to check people’s records at the Social Security Administration and USCIS to verify their right to work in the states.

In short, the I-9 process is an important one. Fortunately, Personnel Concepts has developed a comprehensive I-9 Compliance Kit to help employers and human resource personnel maintain proper I-9 verifications. It is a big deal.