Pilgrim's Pride Begins Layoffs - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/20/07 - Lufkin

Pilgrim's Pride Begins Layoffs

by Tashun Chism

Today is an average day for most Pilgrim's Pride employees. But for some, there's the fear of being laid off for not having proper documentation.

"A lot of hardworking innocent people are going to suffer from this kind of enforcement," said Lufkin attorney Wayne Haglund.

Pilgrim's Pride wouldn't talk to us on camera. But off camera, some of it's employees told us 450 undocumented workers were laid off on Friday, July 20. Employers have always been required by law to check their employees' documentation. But lately that law is being more strictly enforced.

"It's not going to be enough for the employer to say well I didn't know because the government's going to look at the file and say there's enough here where you should have known," Haglund said.

The process employers go through to check their workers' documentation is called an I-9 audit. It requires employers to double check social security numbers and other documents.

"Employers are really walking a tightrope here because if they don't ask for the right documentation, or if they say they're not going to hire anybody who might be suspicious, they may be facing an employment discrimination claim," Haglund told us.

Experts say some workers purposely provide fake documents to get jobs. But that's not always the case.

"A lot of times, they're just errors that are clerical errors or typos. You really have to look at it carefully. You can't just assume because there's a number off on the social security number that the employee is at fault or the employer is at fault," Haglund added.

That why Pilgrim's Pride gave employees the chance to show proper paper work. But those who can't will have to find jobs elsewhere.

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