So far in this series of tips to avoid common I-9 mistakes, we’ve talked about the timeframe for completing the Form I-9, how long employers should retain I-9 records and when the reverification process should be performed. Next, we’re turning our attention to a topic that is equally as important: discrimination.

Tip #4: Understand the rules regarding employment discrimination.

The I-9 compliance process can be complicated, and it’s important to understand the rules in order to avoid costly fines and to maintain compliance. While it is important to follow the appropriate procedures and to verify employees, many employers make the mistake of being overly cautious to the point of discrimination. It’s important to remember that it is illegal to discriminate against any applicant based on their national origin, race, color, religion, age, sex, disability or genetic information.

An example of employment discrimination may be an employer who chooses to hire only American citizens. Unless U.S. citizenship is required for a specific position by law, regulation, executive order or federal, state or local government contract, jobs must not be limited only to U.S. Citizens.

Also, keeping copies of an employee’s documentation (showing that they are an alien authorized to work in the United States) can be a violation of anti-discrimination laws—unless you maintain the same documentation for all employees. Singling out any one person qualifies as discrimination.

There’s one more blog post coming up in this series, but if you’d like a handy resource including all five tips, feel free to download our complimentary guide today.

Now, we’d like to know: Do you feel that the regulations regarding employment discrimination are easy to understand?