I-9 Checks Not Restricted to Big Employers

One of the largest foundries in the United States is firing 200 employees due to pressure from federal immigration authorities. The United State Immigration and Customs Enforcement is forcing the Berkeley-based company to get rid of third of its workforce because it claims those employees were in the United States illegally. The firings were a result of an audit by ICE and the Company said the audit found that 200 workers had improper documents and must be fired.

In another incident a local day-care in El Paso, Texas was fined for not maintaining I-9 forms of their employees. In July of 2009 the owners of the day-care were approached by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent asking about I-9 forms. I-9 forms are used to verify the employment eligibility of employees and track any civil or criminal restrictions. Although they did not have the I-9 form required for every employee, they did have the information required on the form. But the lack of an I-9 form landed then with a heavy fine. The day-care employs 60 people and serves about 200 children, according to the owners. The couple who own the day-care have tried asking to pay off their fine on a monthly basis in order to keep from delaying their employees’ paychecks and their own tax payments. They say they’ve had no response, and the business has an invoice of $18,500 due on Feb. 22.

The ICE audit is not restricted to big companies and audits can be done for small businesses as well. Big players may hire employees trained in the I-9 process; however it is imperative irrespective of the scale of business that you comply with federal regulations in maintaining I-9 forms.  Employers under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act are required to use DHS’s Form I-9 to document employment eligibility and can be held criminally liable for violations.

The past years have seen a steady increase in enforcing employment verification in workplaces with the rise of I-9 audits and workplace raids. It wouldn’t be amiss if companies – both big and small conduct independent I-9 audits, proper training for those administering the I-9 forms in the organization as well as get professional and legal advice to streamline their practices. This can help companies be prepared when ICE comes knocking on their doors.  Another best practice would be to formulate an I-9 compliance plan as a measure of your company’s good faith attempt to comply with the requirements of employment eligibility verification and the Form I-9.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Any issues regarding compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations should be addressed through your legal department or outside counsel.

EMPTrust provides electronic I-9 solutions and E-Verify solutions that can enable your company to streamline its practices and comply with existing federal and state regulations.

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