Nine 7-Eleven franchisees and operators are under indictment for allegedly conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and harboring illegal immigrants. This is the largest criminal immigrant employment investigation ever conducted.
According to court documents, the stores in New York and Virginia hired more than 50 undocumented workers, gave them stolen identification, housed them and forced them to work insane hours. They are even accused of stealing substantial portions of the employees’ wages.
The rights to 14 stores and five houses will be forfeited to the government. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), more than $30 million in assets were seized. The workers will also be paid back wages and the defendants could spend up to 20 years in prison.
This is an extreme example of a company failing to follow I-9 guidelines, but it is a good jumping off point for a quick reminder. Compliance is required for all employers… period.
Here are some easy to remember steps to creating and maintaining your program:
Have a Policy
A sure fire way to run into trouble with the government is to have an unorganized policy for handling I-9 compliance. As with all of your other policies, it needs to be clearly defined in writing and consistent. If you have questions you can consult an attorney familiar with immigration law.
Yes, paper I-9s are perfectly legal, but how often is manual better than electronic these days? Working with a company to help you shift to an electronic I-9 system for E-Verify will make the system easier and help avoid many of the mistakes.
Train, Train, Train
Any new system can cause headaches if people don’t know how to use it. Make sure anyone responsible for working with the forms is not only trained, but keeps up to date on any changes in the system.
Be aware of State E-Verify Measures
Be aware of them, and be sure you understand whether they apply to your organization. Some states have specific mandates in effect which require an employer to take additional steps beyond completing the form I-9 for new hires.
Follow the guidelines for Appropriate Documentation
I-9 has specific guidelines about what documentation is acceptable to prove an applicant can legally work in the US. You can find the list here. Also, be consistent. Don’t ask one new hire for more information than another. That would be considered discrimination.
Conduct Voluntary and Internal Audits
Audit a random sample of all or some I-9s on a regular basis. This will help identify any problems that may exist and allow time to correct those issues before the government conducts its own audit.
Other Great Employer Resources
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Employment Background Investigations is a technology driven leader in domestic and global pre-employment background checks, drug testing, occupational health screening and I-9 compliance. We specialize in development, implementation and management of customized employment screening programs for large and multi-national clients. We are dedicated to information security. EBI is the only NAPBS Accredited background screening company to hold both an ISO 27001:2005 certification for information security and an ISO 9001:2008 certification for Quality Management.
All content provided by EBI is published for the convenience of its readers and should never be deemed as legal guidance or advice. Always consult your legal counsel for specific advice on state laws and industry regulations.