U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (“ICE”) recently announced that Abercrombie & Fitch had agreed to pay a fine of $1,047,110 for violations discovered during a Form I-9 inspection that ICE conducted in November 2008. ICE is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) that is responsible for worksite enforcement. During its audit, ICE discovered numerous technology-related deficiencies in the electronic Form I-9 verification system that Abercrombie & Fitch used.
In announcing this disposition, ICE underscored that employers are responsible not only for the people they hire, but also for the internal systems they utilize to manage the employment process. Here, the system did not comply with the government’s technology requirements. This created a serious gap in Form I-9 compliance and led to the substantial fine that ICE imposed. The Abercrombie & Fitch settlement should serve as a warning to all employers that they need to take the employment verification process seriously and ensure that their electronic systems, or those purchased from vendors, comply with all legal requirements.