OCAHO Reduces Construction Company’s Penalty Amount by Almost $60K
March Construction Company “March”, a construction company that provides concrete work for water treatment plants located in San Antonio, Texas, was found liable for 103 I-9 violations. ICE determined that the baseline fine for March should be $770 but then raised it 15% as to three of the factors: lack of good faith, severe violations, and employment of undocumented workers. With the 15% increase, ICE requested $885.50 per I-9 violation, totaling $86,933.
OCAHO agreed and disagreed with ICE, and most importantly, reduced the total fine to $17,120. OCAHO agreed with ICE on the severity of the violations but found that no evidence was presented by ICE that March was actually employing undocumented workers. Additionally, the company’s ability to pay the large fines was a significant factor. For the most serious violations, the penalties were set at $400 per I-9, for sixty-six violations, the penalties were set at $150 per I-9, and for the remaining 27 I-9s, penalties were set at $110 per I-9.
While taking the case to OCAHO can result in the employer obtaining a large reduction in penalty amounts, it does not come without its costs. Taking a case to OCAHO can be both costly (legal fees) and time consuming for the employer. To avoid these costs and headaches, the employer should regularly perform internal I-9 audits and training to ensure employee I-9s are in compliance with IRCA and are well prepared for a potential visit from ICE.
The OCAHO decision can be found here.
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