Pennsylvania-based tree clearing company, Asplundh Tree Experts, Co., agrees to pay $95 million in forfeitures and fines related to I-9 practices and employing unauthorized workers.
Asplundh Tree Experts, Co. is one of the largest privately-held companies in the United States. It specializes in clearing/trimming trees and bushes for power and gas lines throughout the United States. According to the government’s press release, the company used a “de-centralized” process to be able to hire workers that were readily available and at the company’s disposal. Some of the workers hired, passed E-verify using legitimate work authorization documents that did not belong to them.
One regional manager has plead guilty, and two supervisors are facing conspiracy charges. According to the criminal complaint, the company was incorrectly allowing regional managers to instruct supervisors regarding hiring practices, instead of utilizing a trained compliance officer. The criminal complaint also alleges that this de-centralized practice allowed top level managers to turn a blind eye to the unauthorized workers being hired.
Guilty Plea and Sentencing:
Asplundh plead guilty, and agreed to pay the $95 million forfeiture and penalty sentence imposed. Additionally, the company agreed to put a full immigration compliance system in place, including hiring a third-party compliance officer, instituting training for all hiring managers, and setting up procedures to investigate any reports of undocumented employees.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Company?
ICE is ordering for Asplundh to create and maintain an immigration compliance plan as part of the federal penalties placed on the company. It is imperative that EVERY company has a comprehensive immigration compliance plan to protect itself from results such as in this case. A good immigration compliance plan must include a full initial training of all employees who are involved in the hiring process, and scheduled annual training updates. Please see our training page for more details on how to create a compliance plan for your company: TRAINING.
Leyla McMullen. Business Immigration Attorney
MDIVANI CORPORATE IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM