The government continues to expand it's enforcement of I-9 violations by employers. The government, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does audits and raids, in order to check on I-9 forms and/or illegal workers What is an employer to do?This blog addresses civil violations only. In many cases, employers are paying huge civil penalties. On the other hand, the government has expressly stated that they are looking to get criminal sanctions against employers. In those criminal penalty cases, an employer definitely needs representation by a criminal lawyer. However, in a case involving civil penalties, the question arises as to how the employer should defend.Our law firm has fought these civil penalty cases on behalf of employers and obtained some excellent settlements. While I have read of cases where employers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties, one must wonder, why? Why would an employer choose to pay a huge settlement when they have a good chance of successfully fighting a case and/or getting a significantly lesser penalty? Of course, if the government is threatening criminal sanctions, then the payment of large civil penalties may make sense, but, if there is no specific threat of criminal charges, an employer should seriously consider fighting the proposed penalties.A civil action for I-9 penalty fees is just like any other civil litigation, except it occurs before an administrative judge. However, the same rules and procedures of real courts generally apply. Those procedures include mediation, settlement, discovery, etc. Our experience is that employers can defend by taking depositions and using other discovery tools to obtain favorable testimony and evidence. Once that evidence and testimony is gathered, the government may be much more willing to settle for a reasonable amount, which could be far less than the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars they would typically get.For employers needing representation in these types of cases, which we handle all across the United States, they may contact me directly at my personal email, [email protected]
, or call our offices at 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.________________________________________________________________________________________________Bruce Coane is a leading lawyer with 30 years of experience in the field of immigration law and employment law. He may be reached via email at [email protected] or his website at Coane and Associates.