In USA v. Frimmel Management, OCAHO ordered the employer to pay $347,500 in penalties for 380 paperwork I-9 violations.
ICE served this employer with a Notice of Inspection requesting the original Forms I-9 “for all current employees and all former” employees, copies of any identity and employment authorization documents attached to the employees’ Forms I-9, a list of all employees receiving wages, and other related employee and business records.
After a lengthy review period by ICE of the documents produced by the employer, ICE issued a Notice of Intent to Fine and four counts alleging: failure to ensure that certain named employees properly completed section 1 of their Forms I-9 and/or that Respondent failed to properly complete sections 2 or 3 of these employees’ Forms I-9 and failure to prepare and/or present Forms I-9 for named employees.
ICE set a $935 baseline penalty amount and assessed a total fine amount of $391,391.00 for all four counts. ICE argued that the “higher base fine is warranted because it is clear that Frimmel Management did not take steps to ensure that it was properly completing the verification forms.”
In making its decision, the court noted that Section 2 of the Form I-9 has been described as “the very heart” of the employment verification system. “Paperwork violations are always potentially serious. The seriousness of a violation refers to the degree to which the employer has deviated from the proper form. A violation is serious if it renders the congressional prohibition of hiring unauthorized aliens ineffective.”
In its de novo authority, the court set $900 as the baseline penalty amount. The total civil money penalty for all 380 paperwork violations was $347,500.