Salt Lake City Hotel Chain Fined Almost $2 Million in ICE Audit
A September 10th ICE news release named Salt Lake City hotel chain Grand America as having been fined almost $2 million as a result of hiring unauthorized workers. As part of the settlement, Grand America also agreed to undertake remedial measures estimated to cost the company around $500,000. These measures include: adopting new policies to comply with immigration law; incorporating immigration law compliance clauses into labor service contracts; re-training human resources employees on I-9 procedures; and agreeing to continue to use the E-Verify employment eligibility verification website.
The facts laid out in the agreement stated that Grand America lower-lever and mid-level managers conspired to re-hire employees who had been found to be unauthorized during a 2010 ICE audit. The audit found some 133 workers not eligible for employment. Grand America representatives later re-hired 43 of the unauthorized workers through use of three newly created temporary agencies which served as shell companies. The agreement says most of the workers returned under different names using fraudulent identity documents.
Prosecutors stated in the agreement that Grand America cooperated fully with the investigation and turned over all incriminating evidence obtained through its own internal inquiry into the matter. The company has since fired the individuals involved in the misconduct, who, according to a representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will be prosecuted for their actions.
This is yet another illustration that ICE and Homeland Security Investigations are diligently conducting audits across the board and that serious consequences are likely for those who act in bad faith. Employers should closely assess their I-9 processes on an annual basis and ensure that they are exercising the proper controls on those associated with those processes. Substantial fines and possible jail time are serious business, and employers should frequently remind hiring managers of these consequences.
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