Farmland To Pay $290,400 in Civil Penalties for Lack of I-9 Administrator Training and Going Too Far with I-9 Verifications

September 6, 2011

On August 22, Farmland Foods, Inc., a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc., a major U.S. pork producer headquartered in Kansas City, MO, settled a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice on June 27, 2011.   It took approximately nine weeks for Farmland to agree to pay $290,400, and agree to revise its hiring practices while being “monitored” by the government.


I reported earlier that U.S. Department of Justice’ Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) alleged, based on its investigation, that Farmland, Inc. “engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and excessive documentary requirements on non-U.S. citizens and foreign-born U.S. citizens when establishing their authority to work in the United States.   Specifically, the government alleged that


Ø  “Farmland required all newly hired non-U.S. citizens and some foreign-born U.S. citizens at its Monmouth, Ill., plant to present specific and, in many cases, extra work-authorization documents beyond those required by federal law.


Ø  In the case of non-U.S. citizens, Farmland required the presentation of additional work authorization documents, generally by requiring social security cards, even when employees had already produced other documents establishing work authority.


Ø  In the case of foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens, Farmland required evidence of citizenship, such as certificates of naturalization or U.S. passports, even when those individuals had other means of proving their work authority.


Ø  Farmland’s demand for specific or excessive documents to establish work authority violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act”


Corporate Immigration Attorney’s Take:


Training I-9 administrators (hiring personnel who sign I-9 on behalf of the emploeyr), and conducting internal I-9 audits, is much, much cheaper. OSC has been actively pursuing similar investigations and prosecutions of employers, see Catholic Healthcare West and Brand Energy. ICE Best Practices says I-9 administrators should be trained once a year, and only trained I-9 administrators should be allowed to administer I-9s to new hires.  Internal I-9 audits tell employers about such prohibited practices, and prom necessary training and correction.


Mira Mdivani
Corporate Immigration Attorney


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