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

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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Corporate Immigration Compliance Institute does not provide legal advice or engage in the practice of law. The information provided during training and included in the training materials is general information on the topics covered; it not intended to be a fully comprehensive analysis of the subjects addressed. If you have questions about specific applicability of laws, rules and regulations to your specific situation, or other questions of a legal nature, those questions should be directed to your legal counsel.

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