No good employer wants to hire an unauthorized worker or accept false documents, but we aren't all experts in the area of counterfeited legal papers. Sometimes false documents slip past the human resources department, and the law does not require you to have the ability to spot every fake. You will not be punished for accidently accepting a fake if it seemed at the time as though it was genuine, according to the National Roofing Legal Resource Center.
As long as the caveat of general appearance is a factor, then you're likely safe from any kind of prosecution in case an Immigration and Customs Enforcement I-9 audit finds that you've hired an illegal worker.
However, you must pursue legal action if you later discover that an employee has provided you with false documents. It is at that point that you bear legal responsibility for what happens next.
Following the discovery of fake documents
The Society for Human Resource Management suggests that you seek legal guidance if you discover that an employee is not legal to work. Since there are many complications that can arise in regard to immigration status and right to work, it is a good idea to contact an official who can help you sort through the complexities of your employee's legal status.
If the employee provided false documents at the time of hiring, but has since obtained valid documentation, then it is not required by law that he or she be terminated according to NRLRC. If this is the case, when updating information on the Form I-9, make sure that you initial and date each correction, so you remain compliant in the event of an I-9 audit.
However, if you'd like, you may take a hard-line stance and fire the employee for dishonesty. While it is not necessary to fire an employee who has corrected their false papers, it is not illegal to fire them for providing them in the first place either.
Once you find out that an employee had given you false papers, one of the first things to do is submit the W-2c and W-3c IRS forms in order to correct wages attributed to the wrong social security number, explained SHRM.
If the employee is able to provide new documentation, be sure to examine it thoroughly. As mentioned above, you aren't required by law to be an expert in the area, but getting tricked the same way twice wouldn't be pleasant, or very cost-effective.