Government Changes Are Coming. How Will it Impact Your Organization?

In the past few years, directives from the government have expanded enforcement of I-9 related regulations on U.S. employers. U.S. organizations are increasingly finding it necessary to ally with experts knowledgeable in handling employment eligibility and compliance issues. How exactly will the government’s various agency strategies impact your organization?

NEW KID ON THE I-9 BLOCK – SEC

What does the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) have anything to do with employment eligibility verification? For larger, publicly traded companies, a lot! This past March, we raised this issue of how C-level executives (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc.) should be paying more attention to the management of Form I-9 (and the E-Verify Program) risks. In April, during the Stanford Worksite Enforcement Symposium, we recapped similar corporate governance concerns that had the potential of converting into actual liabilities for publicly traded corporations. Improper management, and worst yet, unwitting reliance on non-complaints software systems, can expose a publicly traded organization to unnecessary risks, including shareholder lawsuits and further review by the SEC! Chipotle’s most recent embroilment with the SEC (by way of a subpoena) is an example of these risks we’ve been discussing during the past few months. In fact, in the past decade, the SEC’s total enforcement activities have steadily increased 122%. Related disgorgement remedies and penalties have also risen from $1.6 billion in 2007 to $2.806 billion last year. Is this the beginning of more serious enforcement actions by the SEC of larger corporations? If your organization is publicly traded, how has your organization accounted for potential I-9 risks in its corporate filings?

USCIS AND ICE – THE GRANDDADDIES

USCIS and ICE, two separate arms of the Department of Homeland of Security have been active in different ways. As you know, USCIS is in the process of considering some bold changes to the Form I-9 by expanding this form to two, fillable pages. Most of our readers have expressed concern regarding these changes. In an effort to provide a venue to learn, discuss, and air some concerns, we’ve put together a webinar to discuss these changes. Afterwards, we’ll be forwarding relevant issues to USCIS. Register here to learn more. By now, our readers are also well aware of ICE’s efforts to expand E-Verify through the IMAGE program. Since E-Verify is still a voluntary program for many organizations throughout the U.S., when a major employer enrolls voluntarily in the E-Verify Program as a result of enrollment in the IMAGE program, the press is quick to report these enrollments. The City of Escondido is one such example of a government entity enrolling in the IMAGE Program as reported here, though, not without its critics. How will your organization respond to changes to the I-9 Form? Will your organization enroll in IMAGE?

DON’T MESS WITH DOJ

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has also been making quite a few headlines in the news lately regarding prominent prosecutions of U.S. employers. Last week, we had the honor of interviewing two U.S. Attorneys from the DOJ’s office. The details they provided were informative but also revealed an intense focus on unauthorized employment-related crimes. Not convinced? Consider the latest arrest and conviction of a Washington state herb grower. Is your organization at risk of an investigation? It’s never too late to get your paperwork in order.

THE KIND ENFORCER – OSC

Most of the I-9 fines you’ve read have been issued by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Office of Special Counsel, which investigates unfair employment practices prohibited by the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Office educates employers on what not to do in certain employment instances by providing a toll free number to call (800) 255-8155. The Office also regularly issues advisory letters as well as webinars employer may attend to understand the employment eligibility verification process. Not interested in having any interaction with the OSC other than the 800 phone number? By all means, stay tuned for future blogs related to the OSC. Because we regularly attend industry conferences, we’ll pass along important updates to our readers.