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All in a Day's Work® - Insights on Labor & Employment Law

Increased U.S. Department of Justice fines for immigration-related (I-9) offenses go into effect August 1

The U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) new penalties for immigration-related workplace violations including unlawful employment of aliens, I-9 paperwork violations and unlawful employment practices tied to immigration (discrimination) will take effect Aug. 1. The new penalties will cover activities that occurred on or after Nov. 2, 2015.

Penalties for unlawful employment of unauthorized workers - For the first offense, the minimum fine will increase from $375 to $539 per worker, while the maximum fine will increase from $3,200 to $4,313 per worker. Fines for second and subsequent offenses will also increase significantly, with a maximum fine possible of $21,563 per worker for companies with a poor track record.

Penalties for Form I-9 paperwork violations - For all Form I-9 paperwork violations, the minimum fine will increase from $110 to $216 per violation. The maximum fine will increase from $1,100 to $2,156 per violation. This is a significant increase which will impact employers even if they are not employing unauthorized workers or are not involved in unfair immigration-related employment practices.

Penalties for unfair immigration-related employment practices - For the first offense, the minimum fine will increase from $375 to $445 per violation, while the maximum fine will increase from $3,200 to $3,563 per violation. Fines for second and subsequent offenses will also increase significantly, up to a maximum fine of $17,816 per violation. In addition, the minimum fines for document abuse (requiring employees to provide more and/or different evidence of work authorization than what is required) will increase from $110 to $178 per violation, and the maximum fines will increase from $1,100 to $1,782 per violation.

With the increase in fines, employers need to be confident that they are following best practices when recruiting and hiring and completing the Form I-9. As always, reviews of employment practices and regular self-audits of company Form I-9s are a good way to make sure that your company is complying with federal law. We are always willing to help with any questions you have regarding your policies and practices.

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