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Employers Beware: Social Security "No-Match" Letters Resume - June 14, 2011

After a long hiatus, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has resumed issuing "no-match letters" to employers, advising them that certain Social Security Numbers (SSN) provided by employees do not match the names of the individuals that SSA has on file for such numbers. (The SSA stopped sending no-match letters to employers in 2007 as a result of litigation.) While a "no-match" may be caused by the use of fraudulent documents by an individual unauthorized to work, it can also be the result of a simple typographical error or a change to an individual's status such as a name change.


In the current environment of aggressive workplace enforcement by ICE, employers, with the advice of counsel, are wise to develop an effective strategy to address such letters in a lawful yet non-discriminatory manner. The new SSA no-match letters advise employers that its receipt, in and of itself, should not be the basis of adverse action against the employee. However, more detailed guidance on what exactly an employer's obligations are remain unclear. On one extreme, an employer should not take adverse action against the employee merely on the basis of the letter. On the other, ignoring such a notice can lead to trouble. Stay tuned as more guidance unfolds.