In a recent decision of the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), Anodizing Industries, Inc., a metal-finishing factory in Los Angeles, California was fined $15,600 for failure to timely prepare I-9 Forms. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) originally sought over $25,000 in fines, but OCAHO ultimately reduced that number to $600 per violation for a total of $15,600.

In response to a Notice of Inspection issued by ICE, the company had provided I-9s dated well after the date of the Notice, as well as many forms that were undated by the employee. The company argued that the errors were not substantive and only technical, but OCAHO disagreed. The failure to prepare I-9s in a timely fashion is a serious, substantive violation, and the longer an employer delays in preparing an I-9, the more serious the violation becomes.

Macy’s recently reached an agreement with the Office of Special Counsel on allegations of discrimination in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Macy’s had been found to have engaged in unfair documentary practices against work-authorized immigrant employees during the employment eligibility reverification process. As part of the settlement, Macy’s agreed to pay a total of $275,000 — $175,000 in civil penalties and $100,000 in back pay for employees who suffered lost wages or loss of seniority as a result of the discriminatory practices.

As these cases demonstrate, it is imperative that employers commit to implementing proper I-9 practices. With such large fines becoming the rule rather than the exception, companies cannot afford to forego ongoing I-9 evaluations by competent immigration counsel. Please contact our office for more information on the above cases or I-9 compliance.