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Employers must comply with a myriad of federal and state hiring laws. If you are an employer, the counsel of a knowledgeable employment law attorney at our firm can help you proceed safely through the hiring process.

Preliminary Matters

An employer must take several required steps before hiring employees, including obtaining employer identification numbers from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the state taxation agency. Some states also require employers to register with the state labor or employment agency. The employer also needs to establish a payroll system to withhold from wages federal and state income taxes and other required deductions.

An employer must determine its workers' compensation obligations. State law governs whether an employer must purchase workers' compensation coverage through a state fund or a private insurance company, or whether the employer can self-insure.

In most states, when employees are hired the employers must notify the state employment or labor agency. In addition, employers must send new hire identifying information to their State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) to assist with in-state and interstate child-support collection and paternity matters.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires that employers complete Form I-9 for each new employee to help determine if he or she is legally eligible to work in the U.S. I-9s must be kept on file and accessible to the government for a particular time frame depending on the circumstances.

E-Verify is a Web-based government service that checks employees' legal work status. Employers with federal contracts and certain categories of employers in some states are required to use E-Verify in addition to completing the I-9. Consult an employment law attorney about E-Verify; the requirements are rapidly changing, with some states requiring it in certain circumstances and at least one state trying to ban its use.

Employers must also be cognizant of complex federal and state regulation of the employment of minors.


Employers generally have discretion over whom they are going to hire, as long as the reason for rejecting a job applicant is not discriminatory. Generally, it is illegal for most employers to base an employment decision on a person's belonging to any of several classifications. Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, religion, military or veteran status, pregnancy, citizenship or union membership.

Your state and local laws may add more protected classes. Examples of additional classes protected by some states or localities include sexual orientation, criminal or arrest history not related to the job, receipt of public benefits or less-than-honorable military discharge. Additional protections are available for certain public-sector jobs.

The interpretation of employment-discrimination laws is a constantly changing exercise. An experienced employment lawyer can provide valuable guidance about how to make legally proper hiring decisions. Legal issues range from appropriate interview questions, to accommodations for disabilities, to adequate documentation of hiring decisions and more.

Drug Testing

Some employers want to administer tests to new employees that identify drug or alcohol problems. An employer must be familiar with laws governing if and when testing is allowed and how tests may be performed. Because employees generally have a right to personal privacy, an employer should consult an employment law attorney before submitting potential hires to such testing. In addition, laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities can add another complication as they may apply to persons with chemical addiction.

Drug-testing is mostly governed by state laws, which vary widely. Federal law requires testing of workers in some industries, such as railroad transportation. Special drug-testing laws may apply to employers working on government contracts or with collective-bargaining agreements.

Speak to a Lawyer

Employers need to approach the hiring process with care. If you are faced with legal issues regarding hiring consult an employment lawyer at our firm for more information.

Copyright 2014 FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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