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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. DOJ Settles National Origin Discrimination Claim Against New York Restaurant

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), within the Department of Justice has reached a settlement with Food Love 125 Inc., d/b/a Ichiba Ramen, a New York City restaurant, to resolve an investigation into whether the restaurant violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision.

    The investigation was initiated by a worker, who filed a complaint with IER, alleging Ichiba Ramen’s former chef discriminated against a job applicant when it refused to hire him as a server because he was not Korean or Japanese. The investigation also revealed that prior chefs had not placed such limitations on the restaurant’s hiring of servers. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers with four to 14 employees from discriminating against individuals because of their national origin.

    Under the settlement agreement, Ichiba Ramen will pay a civil penalty of $2000, undergo training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, and post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA. The restaurant previously paid $1,760 in back pay to the affected applicant.

    This national origin settlement with the IER is fairly rare as the IER only has jurisdiction on national origin claims involving employers with four to 14 employees. Most national origin claims are filed with the EEOC, who has jurisdiction on national origin claims involving employers with 15 or more employees.

    For answers to many other questions related to the IER, national origin discrimination, and immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. IER Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim for $100,00 Against Vegetable Processing Plant

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Justice Department has reached a settlement agreement with Washington Potato Company of Pasco, Washington, which will cost the employer $100,000. The agreement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether Washington Potato discriminated against work-authorized immigrants in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The investigation revealed that Washington Potato routinely requested work-authorized non-U.S. citizens present specific documents to confirm their status, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents while verifying their authorization to work at the plant. However, they did not subject U.S. citizens to such requests. The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on the employees’ citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. This is commonly referred to as document abuse or unfair documentary practices.

    This is the second settlement agreement in 2017 between the IER and Washington Potato as a May 2017 settlement resolved similar discriminatory conduct by Washington Potato at another facility in Pasco, Washington. See blog entry of May 22, 2017 - Fruit and Vegetable Processor Agrees to Pay $225,000 to Settle Discrimination Lawsuit. http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?9904-...nation-Lawsuit.

    Under the settlement, Washington Potato will pay a civil penalty of $100,000 to the United States, train its staff by viewing an IER webinar presentation and USCIS webinar on E-Verify for Existing Users, review and revise any existing employment policies that relate to the employment eligibility verification process so that they prohibit discrimination on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, or national origin, post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for 30 months.

    The allegation of having different standards for U.S. citizens than non-U.S. citizens is a fairly common error by employers. However, with training by an immigration attorney, well-versed in employer compliance, these errors can easily be avoided. For more information on this issue and many others related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  3. DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Rustic Inn Crabhouse

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Justice Department, through the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement agreement with Ark Rustic Inn LLC d/b/a Rustic Inn Crabhouse (Rustic Inn), a restaurant located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The agreement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether Rustic Inn discriminated against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization.

    The investigation revealed Rustic Inn routinely requested that work-authorized non-U.S. citizens present specific documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents, to verify their citizenship status information; however, it did not subject U.S. citizens to the same verification. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

    Under the settlement, Rustic Inn will pay a civil penalty of $4000 to the United States; review and revise any existing employment policies that relate to nondiscrimination on the basis of citizenship or immigration status and national origin so that it prohibits such discrimination in regard to the I-9 verification process; train its staff by viewing a free IER Employer/HR representative webinar; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; shall ensure that all individuals, who are responsible for formulating and carrying out its hiring/firing, and employment eligibility verification policies, have available the most current version of the Form 1-9, USCIS Employment Eligibility Verification Handbook for Employers (M-274), and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.

    The allegation of having different standards for U.S. citizens than non-U.S. citizens is a fairly common error by employers. However, with training by an immigration attorney, well-versed in employer compliance, these errors can easily be avoided. For more information on this issue and many others related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  4. DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Claim for $200,000 against Staffing Companies

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

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    Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement whereby CitiStaff Solutions Inc., and CitiStaff Management Group Inc. (collectively CitiStaff) agreed to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to the United States government. The settlement resolves the investigation into whether CitiStaff violated the law by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their work authorization.

    Based on its investigation, IER concluded that CitiStaff, which provide staffing services in the greater Los Angeles, California area, routinely requested non-U.S. citizens present specific documents to prove their work authorization, such as Permanent Resident Cards (green cards) or Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), but did not make similar requests for specific documents to U.S. citizens. All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

    Furthermore, the investigation found CitiStaff required lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to reverify their work authorization status when their Permanent Resident Cards expired. It is unlawful to require reverification of a green card even if it expires as the LPRs continue to hold lawful status after a green card’s expiration.

    Under the settlement, CitiStaff will pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to the United States, train its staff on the law, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.

    Companies need to be aware of the laws relating to determining employees’ lawful employment status as well as the law concerning re-verification. As you see, it is so easy for employers to make costly mistakes. For the answers to many other questions related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  5. Asplundh Tree Experts Agrees to pay $95 Million for Illegal Hiring

    BY: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    Asplundh Tree Experts has agreed to pay $95 million concerning the employment of undocumented workers. This is the largest monetary penalty ever levied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an immigration case. Based on Asplundh Tree Experts Company’s guilty plea in federal court, the Court imposed a sentence of $80 million forfeiture money judgment. Pursuant to a separate Civil Settlement Agreement, Asplundh will pay an additional $15 million dollars to satisfy civil claims arising out of their failure to comply with immigration law.

    Asplundh, an industry leader in tree trimming and brush clearance for power and gas lines, headquartered in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to unlawfully employing aliens, regarding a scheme in which the highest levels of Asplundh management remained willfully blind while lower level managers hired and rehired employees they knew to be ineligible to work in the United States.

    Court documents show the hiring system was developed after a 2009 I-9 inspection by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which revealed Asplundh employed workers who were ineligible to work in the country. Asplundh fired at least 100 of them, but a regional manager, Larry Gauger, later instructed supervisors to hire some of them back by accepting fake forms of identification, including permanent resident cards or Social Security cards. Gauger knew the dismissed employees within his region were being re-hired under different and false names and false identity documentation and encouraged his supervisors and general foreman to continue this practice.

    Thereafter, the investigation revealed Asplundh decentralized its hiring so Sponsors (the highest levels of management) could remain willfully blind while Supervisors and General Foremen (2nd and 3rd level supervisors) hired ineligible workers, including unauthorized aliens, in the field. Hiring was by word of mouth referrals rather than through any systematic application process. This manner of hiring enabled Supervisors and General Foremen to hire a work force that was readily available. This decentralized model tacitly perpetuated fraudulent hiring practices that, in turn, maximized productivity and profit.

    The amount of the $80 million forfeiture was determined by a review of Asplundh’s payroll, which showed the employment of thousands of undocumented immigrants over four years. Asplundh had a workforce of approximately 30,000. Investigators determined that Asplundh used the fraudulent techniques to hire at least 10 percent of its workforce — or about 3,000 to 4,000 workers — in a four-year span, and earned $800 million in profits during that stretch. The presiding Judge, Josh A. Davison, said the idea of a forfeiture is to seize illegal gains, so the government reasoned that the illegally hired 10 percent of the workforce generated 10 percent of the profits. Thus, 10% of $80 million is $80 million.

    Prior to the company’s guilty plea, regional manager Gauger has pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced in October 2017, along with two supervisors, Juan Rodriguez and Jude Solis, who pleaded guilty in the same conspiracy.

    This case is another example of the U.S. government cracking down on employers who violate the immigration laws.
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