FY2012 Statistics for OSC and ICE: Friendly Competition?

When the Department of Justice gets involved in an investigation, the outlook may look grim for the parties being investigated. Though, when the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division Office of Special Counsel (OSC) investigates a case, the prognosis may not be so dire.

We’ve written often in the past about the various cases OSC has investigated by focusing primarily on cases that resulted in hefty civil penalties against employers alleged to have discriminated or retaliated against its employees in violation of the law. The actual statistics though, may surprise you.

With FY2012 ending in September, OSC was finally able to release statistics for FY2012 by detailing its caseload. OSC imposed over $300,000 in civil fines on employers, settling a total of 14 investigations. Although, these numbers alone may pale compared to figures released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

 

In FY2012, ICE issued over $349,000 in civil fines against 17 employers in Massachusetts after conducting an I-9 audit and discovering employment of unauthorized workers. (The national figures for ICE FY2012 have yet to be officially released.) In the last three years, ICE issued the following fine amounts for Massachusetts employers:

  • FY2011: >$175,000
  • FY2010: >$ 67,000
  • FY2009: >$ 9,700

Clearly, the issuance of fines is influential in deterring unlawful behavior but the role of the OSC differs greatly from that of ICE when it comes to enforcement of the law.

Purely from an observational perspective, OSC has worked very diligently to pursue what appears to be a more preventative approach rather than a punitive approach to immigration law enforcement.

In FY2012, the OSC fielded over 4,600 calls to its hotlines (employer and employee). If you’ve ever attended any of OSC’s presentations, you know that its hotlines are made widely available to the audience. In fact, the OSC’s website contains a host of resources for employers and employees.

In addition, the OSC has provided more than 340 outreach presentations to the public, which include webinars. (That’s nearly one presentation per week!) During any given presentation, the OSC attorneys who present the content answer a variety of questions. The openness to responding to queries and liaising directly with the general public helps encourage the public to proactively seek OSC assistance.

Employers should consider making use of the free resources available to them, including from the OSC as well as the I-9 and E-Verify Blog by LawLogix. In addition, visit our Guest Blogger page for a listing of attorney partners who are experienced with I-9 and E-Verify issues.