Restaurant Forced to Close Due to Non-compliance

by Blake Forrester May 4, 2011

South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation forced one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina to shut down its operations. The Board carried out this penalty because of repeated illegal immigration law violations attributed to the establishment.

The Board closed down the local eatery for 10 days, after the restaurant repetitively violated South Carolina’s Illegal Immigration Reform Act with flagrant disregard.

It seems as if the restaurant did not take repeated LLR Board warnings seriously, continuously sneaking illegal employees onto the staff, and putting up false displays of compliance. Though the owners did not seem to expect to, they eventually paid a heavy price. In fact, this is the first complete shut down that South Carolina has seen because of this act.

The Board carried out this business license suspension after an investigation of the establishment occurred in October of 2010. After that investigation, the restaurant had to fire about five employees that were not US citizens. When the LLR board followed up later, they discovered that the restaurant had hired five new workers since the previous investigation, and that the management did not properly verify the new workers for employment eligibility.

In January, the restaurant complied somewhat by agreeing to fire all illegal workers and pay a fine. However, after a March audit, the Board found four new unverified workers again.

The LLR board has warned that if the restaurant continues to disregard their regulations and policies, that the next time, the restaurant will lose its business license for five years.

Ever since these laws went into effect in July 2009, the LLR board has completed audits on approximately 5,800 local businesses. In addition, the Board issued citations to approximately 500 employers regarding employment verification violations.

According to, LLR Board Director Catherine Templeton "Employers who choose to ignore the requirements of the state immigration law in their hiring practices will be penalized." Also according to Templeton, the board’s purpose for such strict adherence to policy is that since the current national economy is in such a poor state, that the board wants to, “ensure that every available job is held by an employee who is legally in this country and authorized to work”.

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