Talk with an equine farm or stable owner about the challenges of doing business today, and you’ll likely hear a litany of hardships as costs continue to rise across the board. And you’ll probably also hear about another, in many cases even bigger challenge: how to find and keep good help.
In an industry where manual labor dominates the needs in the labor force, Mary Thomas, president of Equistaff.com, claimed that it’s not unusual for an employer to hire foreign personnel to fill that need.
“Even though many recruits are here legally, long-term Federal work authorization can be hard to come by, tempting some to sidestep the lawful channels necessary to obtain legal work documents,” she said.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it is incumbent upon employers to confirm the immigration status of their workers, but if an employer unknowingly hires an employee with false documentation, is the employer liable?
Thomas said, “The answer is: Yes!”
However, she said that by completing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) I-9 form (one form per hire), which documents employment eligibility, it also serves as a hedge against foul play.
“For instance, if a trainer has an I-9 form on file for a particular individual who is later discovered not to have proper authorization, it will provide the basis for the trainer’s affirmative defense case,” said Thomas.
She then pointed to the benefits of signing up for E-Verify, a free electronic employment verification system sponsored by the USCIS as yet another means of protection against possible immigration violations. Using the information from Sections 1 and 2 of the I-9 form, the data is checked against the federal database to determine the individual’s work authorization status.
With the influx of foreign labor into the equine industry, it is important now more than ever to avoid the pitfalls of hiring an undocumented worker.
“Although it requires performing due diligence on the part of employers to keep an accurate accounting of their employees, not having to worry about the consequences of a government audit should be well worth the effort,” Thomas concluded.