Search Our Website:
If you have already undergone one I-9 audit by ICE, you may think your business is now safe and off of the government’s radar. You would be wrong. As detailed in a recent decision by the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), a private company that was audited in 2000, was re-audited nine years later and hit with tougher charges.

In 2000, the company, Associated Painters, Inc. (“API”), received fines and penalties for having approximately 34 unauthorized workers. When ICE came back in 2009, it was discovered that at least three of those workers had been rehired several years later. The workers had used the same identifying information upon rehire, and so API was charged this time with having knowingly hired unauthorized workers. The company argued before OCAHO that the unlawful rehires were negligent, rather than knowing, because API had a decentralized method of record keeping and the hiring took place in different locations, by different managers, in different years. OCAHO, however, rejected this argument, holding that the company’s executives were still to be held accountable for the actions of their hiring managers, despite an unorganized hiring system.

Fortunately for API, the government’s motion was ultimately denied as the judge concluded for other reasons that ICE had not met its burden to prove that the workers were hired knowingly.

Despite the favorable ruling for API, there are two important points to be noted from this case. First, this case shows that ICE can and will conduct a second audit. Just because an employer has been audited once and corrected any errors, does not mean it will not be paid a second visit. Consequently, continued, proper I-9 practices and training are of utmost importance. Second, this case emphasizes the fact that owners and executives can be deemed to have constructive knowledge of unlawful hires and other I-9 violations. It is therefore imperative that businesses implement a well-functioning I-9 compliance system, complete with flags and notifications, as well as regular training of hiring managers.