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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. OSC Reaches Settlement with South Carolina Food Service Provider; by Bruce E. Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for Immigration-Related Unfair Labor Practices, which is within the Department of Justice, has reached an agreement with Centerplate Inc., a large hospitality company based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, resolving allegations that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 
    The investigation was initiated based on a referral from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The investigation concluded that, for at least the past three years, Centerplate engaged in a pattern or practice of treating work-eligible non-U.S. citizens differently from U.S. citizens during the INA's employment eligibility verification processes, including E-Verify, by requiring specific documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security  from non-U.S. citizens, while not making similar requests of U.S. citizens. 
    Under the terms of the agreement, Centerplate has agreed to pay $250,000 in civil penalties, the third highest amount paid through settlement since enactment of the INA's anti-discrimination
    provision in 1986.  Centerplate has also agreed to fully compensate any victims who lost wages as a result of Centerplate's practices, undergo Justice Department training on the anti-discrimination
    provision of the INA, and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for a period of three years. 
    This settlement demonstrates OSC continues to vigorously investigate companies for violations of the INA and is upping the ante on the amount of the fines.
  2. OSC Settles Discrimination Claim against Oregon Homecare Provider; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    The Justice Department, through the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Labor Practices (OSC), has reached a settlement agreement with ComForcare InHome Care & Senior Services, a home care provider for sick and elderly patients in Tigard, Oregon. The agreement resolved claims that the provider violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when it demanded unnecessary  documentation from a newly naturalized citizen in response to an initial mismatch in E-Verify and then refused to hire her when she did not produce it.
    The investigation stemmed from a charge filed by the naturalized U.S. citizen.   Contrary to the law, ComForcare failed to provide the charging party with written notice of her tentative non-confirmation and demanded she produce an "alien card" without which she would not be allowed
    to start working.  When the charging party informed ComForcare that, as a naturalized citizen, she did not possess an alien card, ComForcare demanded her naturalization papers even though she
    had already produced proper work authorization documents during the I-9 process.
    The investigation also established ComForcare requested that non-U.S. citizens and persons perceived to be non-U.S. citizens produce specific employment eligibility documents to establish their employment eligibility rather than allowing these individuals to show their choice of valid documentation. 
    Under the settlement agreement, ComForcare will pay $525 in backpay to the charging party and $1,210 in civil penalties to the United States.   ComForcare will also train its human resources
    staff about employers' responsibilities to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process and be subject to reporting and compliance monitoring for 18 months. 
    This case is an example of the importance of understanding how the E-Verify process works after you start to use it. As this case shows, an employer can unwittingly violate the law if it does not understand the process.
  3. OSC Settles Immigration Claim against North Carolina Company; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    The Office of Special Counsel, an arm of the Justice Department, has reached an agreement with Gamewell Mechanical Inc., based in Salisbury, N.C., resolving claims that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  
    An investigation revealed that Gamewell officials had terminated three individuals when it received information that six of their co-workers were undocumented foreign nationals and incorrectly assumed that three U.S. citizens were similarly not authorized to work in the United States.  
    Under the settlement agreement, Gamewell Mechanical will pay a total of $10,560 in back pay to the three discharged U.S. citizens, and $9,600 in civil penalties to the United States.  Gamewell Mechanical will also train its human resources staff about employers' responsibilities to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process and be subject to reporting and
    compliance monitoring by the department for 18 months.   
  4. ICE fines Connecticut and Maine companies for I-9 Violations; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to issue press releases demonstrating their active involvement in worksite investigations in fiscal year 2012 in various New England states. Twelve Connecticut employers were fined a total of $132,584.25 and eight Maine employers were fined a total of $78,966.50 for various employment violations following investigations/audits of Form I-9 documents by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
    Fines in Connecticut in FY 2012 include: Calabro Cheese Corp. - $45,000; Superior Plastics Extrusion Company Inc., aka Impact Plastics - $34,000; Kingswood Kitchens Company Inc. - $12,000; Prostar Inc. of Farmington - $10,472; Contour Landscaping Company Inc. - $8,104; Gourmet Heaven Inc. - $5,891; Acranom Masonry, Inc. - $4,500; John J. Masi Company Inc. - $3,276; Villa Brava Grocery LLC - $2,992; Quality Sales LLC - $2,722; Leed-Himmel Industries Inc. - $2,241.25; and Melissa & Doug LLC - $1,386.
    Fines in Maine in FY 2012 include: Maine International Labor Inc. - $13,898.50; My Tai Inc. - $13,744; Artstock Inc., aka Artist & Craftsman Supply Company - $12,584; New Fay Da Restaurant Inc., aka Happy China Buffet - $11,220; Farrens Harvesting and Land Leveling Inc. - $9,490; King China Inc. - $9,100; ASAP Taxi - $7,153; and Three Sons Lobster and Fish - $1,777.
    This information is particularly interesting since a couple of years ago, ICE ceased issuing press
    releases on each company fined.
  5. ICE fines Massachusetts' companies for I-9 Violations; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    Following an investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), 17 Massachusetts employers were fined a total of $349,619.54 in fiscal year 2012 for employment violations. The inspection of the employers' documents is part of HSI's worksite enforcement strategy that launched in 2009 to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce.
    Fines in Massachusetts in FY 2012 of over $1500 include:
    Northern Pelagic Group LLC (NORPEL) - $151,200;
    Amex Inc. - $70,000;
    Samar Company Inc.  - $33,786.22;
    Quality Workforce Inc. of - $26,881.25;
    Metropolitan Linen Services Corp. - $13,635.19;
    Bread & Company Inc. of - $9,804;
    Cap Seafood Inc. - $9,804;
    Leechen Restaurant Inc. - $9,441.63;
    Ocean Crest Seafoods - $9,000;
    Panda House Inc. - $4,675;
    Jae's Spice - $3,000;
    Fruitlands Restaurant, Inc., aka Sorrento's Pizza - $2,805; and
    Pier Fish Company Inc. - $2,200;
    During FY 2012, HSI conducted 35 inspections of employers' I-9 documents in Massachusetts. In
    previous years, the HSI fines and inspections in Massachusetts were: FY 2011: 30 inspections  and $175,420.25 in fines for worksite violations against 11 companies; FY 2010: 20 inspections and $67,440 fines for worksite violations against three companies; and FY 2009: 17 inspections and $9,753 fines for worksite violations against one company.
    These statistics are just more evidence of the active role that ICE is playing in investigating I-9 violations.
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