The U. S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, specifies that within 3 business days of employment, employers are required to complete an Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Form.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) announced a settlement at the end of September with clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch requiring the Company to pay a $1,047,110 fine as a result of a “routine” Form I-9 Notice of Inspection (NOI) to their retail stores in the State of Michigan. The resulting inspection revealed “technology-related deficiencies” in the employment authorization verification system. Even though ICE uncovered no knowing hires of unauthorized aliens, the Company still must suffer a $1 million + fine.
This fine highlights the fact that in addition to the significant loss of productivity an immigration-related investigation may bring, employers face potential penalties for immigration-related violations (all of which may be the result of an investigation that begins with a NOI):
- Fines of up to $1,100 for each I-9 Form violation;
- Fines of up to $16,000 for each unauthorized employee or for each unfair practice offense, including refusal to accept documents listed on the I-9 Form;
- Fines of up to $6,500 for various prohibited activities related to document fraud;
- Prisons sentences of up to 10 years for criminal violations.
Given the potential for significant penalties, employers must implement an effective compliance system and ensure that I-9′s are completed on all employees and that they are completed accurately.
As a point of information, of the HR Function Audits which RGL Consultants has conducted, we have yet to find an employer who has achieved 100% compliance with this requirement. Inaccurate and incomplete paperwork has been found in every instance. For additional information regarding such audits, please see the archieved September, 2010 Pipeline article on “Auditing Your Human Resources Function”.