Following an investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, eight Maine employers were fined a total of $78,966.50 in fiscal year (FY) 2012 for various employment violations. The inspection of the employers’ documents is part of HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy that launched in 2009 to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce. This strategy focuses agency resources on the investigation and audit of employers suspected of cultivating illegal workplaces by hiring workers who are not authorized to work.
Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire. This form requires employers to review and record the individual’s identity and employment eligibility document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appears to be genuine and related to the individual. Additionally, an employer must ensure that the employee provides certain information regarding his or her eligibility to work, on the Form I-9.
“These settlements serve as a reminder to employers that HSI will continue to hold them accountable for hiring and maintaining a legal and compliant workforce,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. Foucart oversees HSI throughout New England. “We encourage employers to take the employment verification process seriously, as we expand the number of audits we are conducting throughout Maine each year. My agency will continue to focus its attention on employers that are knowingly employing illegal workers and will continue to target specific industries and businesses known or alleged to hire illegals.”
During FY 2012, HSI conducted 22 inspections of employers’ I-9 documents in Maine. In previous years, HSI conducted 23 inspections in FY 2011, 11 in FY 2010 and five in FY 2009.
In previous years, the fines in Maine were:
- FY 2011: HSI issued fines for worksite violations against six companies totaling $150,018.38;
- FY 2010: HSI issued fines for worksite violations against two companies totaling $7,012.50; and
- FY 2009: HSI issued fines for worksite violations against one company totaling $9,753.