• The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently filed suit against a Las Vegas hotel and casino seeking monetary and injunctive relief for allegedly engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination in the employment eligibility verification and re-verification process. The government alleges that the hotel impermissibly held non-U.S. citizens to a different standard during the I-9 employment eligibility verification and re-verification process by having them provide additional or different documents or information and by asking that specific documents be presented, beyond what is required and allowed under federal law. The hotel also allegedly had U.S. lawful permanent residents reverify employment eligibility upon expiration of their Permanent Resident Cards ("Green Cards") even though the Green Cards are not subject to reverification. All U.S. employers are required to complete and maintain Forms I-9, and should have a solid immigration compliance program, including procedures for hiring and nondiscriminatory employment eligibility verification and re-verification.
  • The DOJ reached a settlement agreement with Imagine Schools Inc. after an investigation into claims of immigration-related employment discrimination in connection with the termination of one of Imagine School's employees in Ohio. The employee, a U.S. lawful permanent resident, alleged that the school improperly terminated him after he failed to produce an unexpired Green Card during I-9 re-verification, when he had already presented a valid Green Card when he was hired. Under the federal I-9 regulations, certain documents, including Green Cards and U.S. passports, are not subject to re-verification. Imagine Schools has agreed to pay more than $20,000 in back pay and civil penalties, train its personnel on the immigration laws pertaining to discrimination, and provide periodic reports to the Justice Department for 18 months.
  • A Van Nuys manufacturing company and one of its owners face federal criminal charges for hiring unauthorized foreign workers and taking action to conceal the illegal hiring so that they could continue to employ the workers. The investigation into hiring practices of Wazana Brothers International, Inc. dba Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE) began in 2007 and led to a February 2008 enforcement operation, during which federal agents arrested eight current and former company workers on criminal charges and another 130 employees on administrative immigration violations. MSE admitted to hiring approximately 55 unauthorized workers and then continuing to employ them after the government's audit began. In addition, the owner of MSE pled guilty to one felony count of false representation of a Social Security number. Under a plea agreement, MSE agrees to pay approximately $267,000 in civil and criminal fines, submit to 3 years' probation, retain an independent compliance monitor to oversee completion and maintenance of the company's hiring records, and train its employees with regard to federal hiring laws. Since 2009, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), an arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has made concerted effort to reduce demand for illegal employment by auditing I-9's and hiring practices of U.S. employers, resulting in record amount of civil and criminal penalties being levied each successive year.