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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. 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.   
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Will more States Pass E-Verify Legislation?; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    In the aftermath of the November 2012 elections, most immigration law pundits are focused on the increased chances for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) to pass Congress. But another area to consider is whether more states will pass E-Verify legislation. Obviously, this will be impacted on whether mandatory E-Verify is included in CIR. A second consideration is the strong majorities that Republicans hold in many state legislatures.
    Currently, 7 states, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah, require all employers to utilize E-Verify while Tennessee and Louisiana make the use of E-Verify advantageous for employers but not mandatory. Nine states, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia (the last two effective in 2013) require employers contracting with state and/or local government to utilize E-Verify.
    What states might pass E-Verify legislation or expand it to include all employers in 2013? Based upon the political landscape, Arkansas is a likely candidate due to the fact that Republicans tookover both chambers of the legislature. Kansas came close in 2012 to passing E-Verify legislation and it is likely to be a topic in the 2013 legislature though the political makeup of the legislature remained about the same. Republicans in Tennessee now have a super majority in both the House and Senate so one can expect an effort to pass new legislation making the use of E-Verify mandatory. There are other states, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas, where the Republicans continue to hold significant majorities.  However, it is unclear whether any of these states will pass E-Verify legislation or expand E-Verify legislation.
  5. OSC issues Letter on Application of Employer's Dishonesty Policy and Fraudulent Documents; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Employment Practices (OSC) issued a Technical Assistance letter on November 1, 2012 to Information Solutions of Lowell, Arkansas concerning an employer's dishonesty policy and acceptance of fraudulent documents from employees in the I-9 process.
    OSC initially reminded employers that if it "knows a document to be fraudulent but nevertheless accepts it", it may have violated the law. It also discussed whether a "company policy that deems individuals that presented false documents ineligible for rehire" is lawful. The OSC stated "consistent application of a dishonesty policy would not constitute a per se violation of the antidiscrimination provision."
    However, the OSC explained "if an employer rejects a presently work-authorized individual from employment based on the individual's prior undocumented status, that employee might choose to file a charge under the anti-discrimination provision." OSC stated its investigation would focus on whether an employer's "dishonesty policy" is consistently applied to employees who make false representations on their applications for employment or other forms without regard to citizenship status or perceived national origin, and whether the employer's claimed reason for termination is in fact a pretext for citizenship status discrimination.
    This is a timely reminder on the importance of having consistently-applied policies concerning dishonesty. This is especially true as many individuals receive work authorization cards through DACA and may be presenting their card to their present employer.  
     
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