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Penalties for Employing Undocumented Workers
Undocumented Workers, Employer Liability, Illegal Aliens, Employing Illegal Aliens

Recently, fruit company executives at Zirkle agreed to pay $1.3M to settle out of a court a RICO lawsuit alleging that undocumented workers were hired in order to keep wages low. This is the first time that a large scale employer-based RICO lawsuit has been settled.

With FAIR receiving 1/3 of the settlement in attorneys fees,
expect to see a spate of RICO-based lawsuits against other large employers with deep pockets. The Supreme Court is expected toresolve this issue when it hears a similar RICO-based case involving Employer Mohawk Industries. The issue involves whether a company and its agents, in performing corporate duties, can be considered a racketeering enterprise under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

This is just one example of how companies can run afoul of immigration laws and expose themselves to significant liability.

Penalties for Employing Undocumented Workers

With today’s complex immigration and labor laws, an employer with foreign workers must be careful to avoid violating immigration and anti-discrimination laws at all stages of the employer/employee relationship. Issues regarding immigration and anti-discrimination laws can occur during the hiring period, the employment phase, and at termination. For example, if a worker presents a temporary work authorization document from the Immigration Service at the time the worker is hired, the employer must not only make a good faith effort to verify the legitimacy of the document, but also re-verify the employee’s work authorization at the time the initial authorization expires.

There are civil and criminal penalties for hiring illegal aliens. Sec. 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and 8 U.S.C. 1324a, makes it unlawful for any person knowingly to hire, recruit or refer for a fee any alien not authorized to work. An employer that violates these laws can face penalties of:

· $250 to $2,000 fine for each unauthorized individual;

· $2,000 to $5,000 for each employee if the employer has previously been in violation; or

· $3,000 to $10,000 for each individual if the employer was subject to more than one cease and desist order.

The employer could also be fined $100 to $1,000 for each individual “paperwork” violation.

The criminal penalties for a pattern and practice violation can be up to $3,000 for each unauthorized alien, imprisonment up to six months, or both.

There are legal means to hire foreign workers on a temporary or permanent basis and our office can help you explore your options.

Call 763.300.4468 or Ask-A-Lawyer-Online.com to submit a question.

Call 763.300.4468
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