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- The preeminent Final Mile delivery company Logistics representation from startup to international operations
No-Match Is Different Than No Work Authorization
December 8, 2010
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued Fact Sheets and FAQ's informing employers and employees what to do when the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends a letter stating that an employee's reported social security number (SSN) does not match SSA records (a "No-Match Letter"). The Fact Sheets and FAQ's are attached here. The DOJ emphasizes that a No-Match Letter implicates nothing about an employee's authorization to work and is often a result of marriage-related name changes, discrepancies in culturally hyphenated or multiple surnames, and typographical errors. The DOJ cautions employers from taking any adverse employment action based upon the No-Match Letter (such as an unpaid leave of absence while correcting the issue) and states that any such action could violate federal anti-discrimination laws.
Rather, first, the employer and employee should check the reported SSN for typographical errors, and, if none appear, then the employee should be instructed to contact the local SSA office to address the No-Match Letter. The employer must give the employee a "reasonable amount of time" to resolve the No-Match with the SSA. Although the reasonableness of the amount of time is fact and case specific, the DOJ suggests that E-Verify's 120-day timeline to resolve similar disputes may be appropriate. Employers may require employees to periodically check-in and report their progress in resolving the discrepancy. But, employers cannot require new I-9 Forms to be completed, or that any specific documents to be produced, solely as a result of receiving a No-Match Letter.
With all that said, employers need accurate social security numbers for tax reporting and other reasons, and, thus, although a hard timeline may not be imposed, it is reasonable to require the timely resolution of the discrepancy. Further, if there is reason to believe that the No-Match Letter was not an "innocent mistake", but rather indicates some other fraud or lack of work authorization, depending on what this belief is based upon, it may be appropriate to dig deeper to verify work authorization and identity so that the employer does not run the risk of harboring illegal aliens, employing unauthorized individuals, and knowingly or recklessly violating I-9 and other federal laws. As is often the case, all circumstances must be analyzed to determine both the legal requirements and best business practices
There are various on-line resources to assist with verification of SSN's and work authorization. Employers can verify SSN's on-line using the SSA's Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS), but results can only be used for wage reporting purposes. Employers can register for SSNVS at www.ssa.gov. Employers can also register for E-Verify, an on-line system that verifies work authorization, and registration information can be found at www.uscis.gov. However, there are several factors to consider before registering for E-Verify.
For more information about No-Match Letters, SSNVS, E-Verify, or any other related topic, please contact Berin S. Romagnolo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Alert is provided for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. According to Mass. SJC Rule 3:07, this material may be considered advertising. ©2010 Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP. All rights reserved.