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Tyson Foods Inc. is the first major food company to become a full member of the IMAGE program with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, company and government officials announced.
Short for “ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers,” IMAGE enables businesses, if they meet rigorous standards, to voluntarily partner with the federal government to ensure they are employing people who are legally authorized to work in the United States.
“We believe our participation confirms to our customers, plant communities and others that Tyson uses best hiring practices to maintain a lawful work force,” Ken Kimbro, Tyson senior VP and chief HR officer, said at a signing ceremony Thursday in Washington, D.C. “We also believe this partnership will enhance our ability to collaborate with government officials on immigration-related matters.”
ICE Director John Morton added: “ICE’s collaboration with Tyson Foods illustrates this administration’s commitment to working with industry to encourage a culture of compliance with U.S. employment laws. Tyson Foods is setting the gold standard for Fortune 500 companies everywhere, and ICE is proud to be partnering with the company in this significant effort to protect our nation's lawful work force.”
Tyson employs almost 100,000 people at locations throughout the United States. To become certified, the company made all of its Form I-9 employment eligibility documents available for ICE review, cooperated with government field audits of selected plant locations and also allowed ICE to check the Social Security numbers of all company employees.
The certification process gave Tyson the opportunity to show how the company is already using best hiring practices.
“We use all available tools provided by the U.S. government to verify the documents of the people we hire,” Kimbro said. “We also go beyond government-provided tools in our verification efforts. In fact, we’ve spent millions of dollars over the years on such things as training, computer systems and help from outside consultants to make sure we’re employing people who are authorized to work in our country.”
Since 1998, Tyson has voluntarily participated in the online government employment verification program currently known as E-Verify. The company also voluntarily uses the Social Security Number Verification System, an online service that allows employers to verify the names and Social Security numbers of employees against Social Security Administration records.
In addition to government tools, Tyson has also taken its own measures:
- Training all of its employment managers on the hiring process, proper completion of the Form I-9 and on document examination and fraud detection.
- Permitting only salaried managers who have been trained to conduct job interviews and certify Form I-9s. All hiring managers are re-certified through an I-9 certification test on a yearly basis.
- Maintaining an internal website with immigration-related information and tools hiring managers can use at any time. This includes I-9 certification training as well as links to important government websites with information about employment verification.
- Regularly auditing its Form I-9s, as well as its hiring process. These internal audits are conducted on a weekly, semi-annual and annual basis by the location and by corporate HR representatives.
- Also using an independent, outside company with expertise in immigration matters to conduct its own audits of the company’s hiring practices.
- Maintaining a help line that anyone within the company can use to report unauthorized workers or illegal activity.
- If company officials learn an employee may not be authorized to work in this country, immediate measures are taken. If the worker involved is unable to correct any discrepancies in their documents, he or she is released from employment.
- Tyson also has a protocol for any “no match” letters it receives from the Social Security Administration. Such letters are promptly addressed and situation is tracked until resolved.
- Tracking identity fraud trends and enforcement actions and communicating those to hiring managers. This ensures diligence in the face of changing identity fraud trends in the communities and the industries where Tyson operates.
Founded in 1935, Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods Inc. is one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500 and a member of the S&P 500.