Can an employer’s I-9 process be discriminatory?

With few exceptions, employers in the U.S. must complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for all employees they hire. Because hiring unauthorized workers may violate federal law, the I-9 confirms employers have verified the identities and work authorization of all new employees.

Unfortunately, when going through the I-9 process, employers sometimes either intentionally or inadvertently engage in illegal workplace discrimination.


On your first day of employment, your employer should ask you to complete the first section of the I-9. You have until the end of your third day of work to provide sufficient documentation to prove your identity and work authorization, though. If your boss shortens this time, he or she may be discriminating against you.


The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees because of their immigration or citizenship status. Retaliating against workers who file a claim is also off limits.

The I-9 process should apply to all new hires. That is, every worker your employer hires should go through the same employment eligibility verification procedures. If your employer treats you differently, you may have a valid discrimination claim.


Typically, employees may provide any acceptable document or combination of documents from the I-9’s list of acceptable documents. While there are exceptions, if you provide documentation from the list, your employer likely cannot ask you for different documents or additional ones.

If you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, your employer should also probably not ask you to reverify your work authorization during your employment. This is likely true even if the documentation you previously provided has expired.