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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. DOL Oversteps Its Authority - $330,000 in Back Pay Reversed

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law
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    An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) of the Department of Labor (DOL) reversed DOL’s efforts to conduct an expansive investigation. Initially, one employee, Sergey Nefedyev, filed a charge with the DOL alleging he was not paid for one and one-half months when he was working for Volt Information Sciences on a H-1B visa. The parties resolved the case for $12,000 in back pay.

    But, the DOL decided to expand this single complaint on a H-1B visa violation to cover 80 other employees and sought $330,000 in back wages.

    The ALJ cited to a recent decision of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in Greater MO Medical Pro-Care Providers, Inc. v. Perez, 812 F.3d 1132 (8th Cir. 2015). In so doing, he followed the reasoning of the 8th Circuit which stated:
    Rather than authorize an open-ended investigation of the employer and its general compliance without regard to the actual allegations in the aggrieved-party complaint, § 1182(n)(2)(A) expressly ties the Secretary’s initial investigatory authority to the complaint and those specific allegations “respecting [an employer’s alleged] failure to meet a condition specified in [a labor condition application] or [an employer’s] misrepresentation of material facts in such [a labor condition application]” for which the Secretary finds “reasonable cause to believe” the employer committed the alleged violation. Read naturally, the Secretary’s authority to conduct an initial investigation under § 1182(n)(2)(A) is based upon the Secretary finding reasonable cause to believe the employer’s specific misconduct as alleged in the complaint violates the INA. That reasonable-cause finding limits the scope of the initial investigation.

    Thus, the ALJ found the DOL had overstepped its bounds in this case.

    It will be interesting to see if this analysis is used in other settings as often Wage and Hour and the National Labor Relations Board will expand the scope of its investigation beyond the contents of the charge.
  2. 7-Eleven Forfeiture is Largest in ICE History

    By Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

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    In the largest criminal immigration forfeiture in ICE history, five franchisees and operators of 7-Eleven stores located on Long Island, New York and in Virginia pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring undocumented workers employed at their stores. When sentencing hearings are held in federal court at a later date, the defendants also face up to 10 years in prison.

    The defendants owned, managed, and controlled a total of 14 franchised 7-Eleven stores. They allegedly hired dozens of undocumented immigrants to work at the stores, provided them with stolen identities of U.S. citizens, housed them at residential properties owned by the defendants and stole their wages. In all, the defendants' activities generated over $182 million in proceeds which they split among themselves.

    As part of their plea agreements with the government, the defendants will:

    - forfeit the franchise rights to 14 franchised stores - ten in New York and four in Virginia;
    - forfeit five houses in New York worth more than $1.3 million; and
    - pay the sum of $2,621,114.97 in restitution for the back wages they stole from their workers.

    ICE took the opportunity to warn employers that this case should serve as an example to employers who "seek to profit on the back of an illegal workforce". This record-setting forfeiture is a reminder of last year's record-setting penalty of $34 million against Infosys Limited which resulted from that company's settlement with ICE-HSI for visa fraud and I-9 violations. Be sure to follow my blog, and stay up to date on these headline-grabbing forfeitures and penalties.

    Click here for a copy of the ICE press release.
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