Staffing Firm Receives $1.5 Million Fine for Form I-9 Violations

A recent case involving an employer that operates in Oregon and Washington highlights the importance of following the rules when completing Form I-9. This employer was found not to be in compliance during a government inspection and fined $1,527,308.90 by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

The employer, in this case, was a staffing company. This company had hundreds of employees it hired on a seasonal basis, but less than 50 employees that worked full time. The company had its Form I-9s inspected by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after they received a tip claiming that the company was not in compliance with I-9 rules. ICE inspected the I-9s of both former and current employees that were within the required retention period.

The inspection took ten years, and once it was complete, ICE issued a Notice of Intent to Fine requesting over $2 million in I-9 penalties. The administrative law judge was basically in agreement with ICE and imposed a fine of $1,527,308.90. This was a very high fine considering the judge was lenient in allowing the company to be treated as a small business due to the number of full-time workers they had.

The ALJ stated that the company committed several serious errors, such as:

Failure to prepare or present the Form I-9s requested in a timely manner. This includes not producing the entire Form I-9 meaning blank or missing pages.

Failure to complete Sections 1 and 2 correctly, including:

There was no category of employment authorization designated in Section 1.

An alien registration number was not stated when applicable.

The new hire did not sign in Section 1 attesting that they were authorized to legally work in the United States.

There were no document entries in Section 2 or any entries for documents that were invalid.

There were missing or partial document numbers or expiration dates in Section 2 for the documents that were presented.

The name of the employer’s representative was not printed in Section 2.

The compliant signature for the representative of the employer was not present.

There was no attestation by the employer stating that they reviewed the documents presented by the employee to verify the identity of the new hire as well as their employment eligibility as specified by the federal I-9 rules.

The employer did not reverify employment authorization when it was given for a temporary period of time and about to expire.

There are fines established by federal law for I-9 paperwork violations. These fines have a specified range, and the ALJ imposed fines in the midrange for most of the violations. Although, the ALJ did impose a higher fine for the backdating violation as it was the most serious violation.

This case shows why it is so important to properly complete and retain Form I-9s Learn More

Unfortunately, completing Form I-9 can be complicated and confusing. It is easy to make costly mistakes because hiring personnel do not understand the requirements. The best way this can be avoided is with an electronic I-9 management tool. This can guide employers through the employment verification process and ensure hiring personnel know which documents are suitable to prove work authorization.

There’s a smarter way to verify your employment eligibility I-9 Compliance makes things easier on your end with automation. Start today.