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Marriott workers get more time to fix Social Security discrepancy

LABOR: More than 100 O.C. employees, whose numbers were determined invalid in an annual government review, could be fired.

By Elizabeth Aguilera
The Orange County Register, November 3, 2000

ANAHEIM -- Local Marriott employees are breathing easier after getting additional time to work out a Social Security nightmare that could cost them their jobs.

Last month more than 100 employees were told their numbers don't match Social Security Administration records. They had until today to fix the discrepancy or be fired.

Instead, Marriott extended the deadline indefinitely and is giving employees a one-time chance to turn in a valid number, even if it's different from their original number, and keep their jobs, said company spokesman Roger Conner.

In Anaheim the deadline has been set for Nov. 17. Marriott hotels in Irvine and Newport Beach are also affected.

Social Security conducts annual reviews of 251 million W-2 forms annually to make sure names and numbers match. This year, 83,000 employers were notified that 10 percent or more of their reports had problems. Name changes, clerical errors and false use of numbers are common reasons for the mismatches, said Lowell Kepke, Social Security spokesman.

Employees who cannot fix the problem -- mostly undocumented workers using numbers that do not belong to them -- are worried about losing profit-sharing programs and vacation benefits. So far, the Anaheim Marriott hasn't responded to a letter sent by the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of the employees, said Jaime Torres, a field organizer for the Hotel Employee & Restaurant Union.

Conner said that Marriott hiring policies and procedures are being reviewed to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Workers hope the extension will continue until pending amnesty legislation is approved. Under the proposed legislation anyone in the United States prior to 1986 would become a legal resident.