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As regularly reported in the news, the crackdown on employers by the federal government continues. If your company is targeted and I-9 violations are discovered, fines for simple paperwork violations, even if no undocumented workers are discovered, will range from $110 to $1,100 per I-9 Form depending on the severity of the errors. Penalties for knowingly hiring or continuing to hire undocumented individuals range from $375 to $16,000 per individual. In addition, the company owner, managers and human resources professionals can be held criminally liable for certain infractions.

Some examples in the news of very significant fines imposed for I-9 related errors include: most recently in October 2013, a $34 million fine against Infosys Limited; $2.5 million against Howard Industries (a manufacturer of electrical transmission and distribution equipment); $625,000 against Infinite Visions, LLC (a clothing manufacturer); $465,178 against Can Do It Inc. (a staffing company); $395,000 against Disneyland.

Recently our I-9 Team has assisted clients with respect to I-9 audits involving companies in the following industries: landscaping; higher education; financial; electronics; restaurant and hospitality; milling and lumber; information technology; communications and cable television.

In this hostile climate, there is nothing more important than partnering with experienced counsel to help you identify errors, omissions and discrepancies on your I-9 Forms, and to establish improved employment compliance processes and systems. Careful review of existing I-9 Forms, comprehensive training, and the creation of strong compliance policies can help your company avoid hefty fines, negative publicity, and even criminal charges.