updated 1/20/2011 2:20:28 PM ET 2011-01-20T19:20:28

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE:TSN) is the first major food company to become a full member of the IMAGE program with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), company and government officials announced today.

IMAGE is short for 'ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers.' The program 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.

At a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. today, Tyson Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Ken Kimbro said, "We believe our participation confirms to our customers, plant communities and others that Tyson uses best hiring practices to maintain a lawful workforce. We also believe this partnership will enhance our ability to collaborate with government officials on immigration-related matters."

"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," said ICE Director John Morton. "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 workforce."

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," said Kimbro. "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." 

A video outlining Tyson's employment verification efforts can be seen going to the media section of the company's website. Click on http://www.tysonfoods.com/Media/News-Releases.aspx The video appears on the right side of the page. To see the ICE news release on today's announcement, go to: http://www.ice.gov .

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, which include:

  • 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-9's. 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 Human Resources 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" 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.

Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE:TSN), founded in 1935 with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, 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. The company produces a wide variety of protein-based and prepared food products and is the recognized market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves. Tyson provides products and services to customers throughout the United States and more than 90 countries. The company has approximately 115,000 Team Members employed at more than 400 facilities and offices in the United States and around the world. Through its Core Values, Code of Conduct and Team Member Bill of Rights, Tyson strives to operate with integrity and trust and is committed to creating value for its shareholders, customers and Team Members. The company also strives to be faith-friendly, provide a safe work environment and serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment entrusted to it.

The Tyson Foods, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=3224

CONTACT: Gary Mickelson 479-290-6111 or gary.mickelson@tyson.com
         Also visit http://www.tysonfoods.com/Media/News-Releases.aspx

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