Multiple drywall company owners and managers are said to have knowingly employed an unauthorized workforce. Owners and managers of businesses where there is a shortage of authorized labor often hire anyone who is available to work, and sometimes that means hiring those without authorization. However, as we see in this case, the penalties for taking such risks far outweigh any possible reward.
It has been alleged that owners and managers of a dry wall company in Lawrence, Kansas, Plaster Masters L.C., hired unauthorized workers and paid them cash. The charges against the six defendants include harboring, conspiracy to harbor, money laundering, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The crimes carry penalties ranging from five years to thirty years per count, in addition to fines ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.
One of the defendants, an owner of a separate dry wall subcontractor, has already pleaded guilty to charges related to his involvement with this case, while the rest are awaiting trial.
Why Do Employers Get Caught in These Messes?
Business owners are not always aware of the magnitude of risk they are taking when it comes to employing unauthorized individuals. Immigration compliance enforcement is rampant nowadays, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigators and U.S. Attorneys do not sympathize with an industry’s shortage of available labor. For many employers, the topic of hiring unauthorized individuals is a catch-22: to be able to survive as a business is to hire the available workers, but to hire the available workers is to violate the law.
Ultimately, it comes down to determining whether avoiding immigration compliance is worth the risk of jail time and/or immense fines in order to hire and pay an unauthorized work force? The answer should always be no. Owners and managers who choose to engage in this type of behavior are not necessarily bad people looking to break the law, but are rather employers looking to keep their businesses afloat amid the lack of qualified or useful authorized labor.
How Do We Remedy the Problem?
There is no easy remedy to the shortage of labor that many industries are facing, but there is a remedy to noncompliance. Like any other government regulation, such as OSHA or FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), immigration regulations need to be followed. Business owners and managers should be engaging in immigration compliance by adopting plans, policies, and procedures that follow ICE Best Employment Practices instead of hoping to not get caught. By setting up policies and procedures, employers establish a good faith defense for any immigration issues.
Danielle Atchison, Business Immigration Attorney MDIVANI CORPORATE IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM 7007 College Blvd., # 460, Overland Park, KS 66211 USA Phone :: 913.317.6200 Email :: DAtchison@uslegalimmigration.com