Company Pays More Than $1 Million to Settle I-9 Fine

A recent fine levied against an Ohio-based company should serve as a warning to employers that simple recordkeeping mistakes on I-9s could cost them big.

According to a recent Human Resource Executive Online article, Abercrombie & Fitch agreed to pay $1,047,110 to settle the fine that was waged after a 2008 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) I-9 audit. The audit revealed "numerous technology-related" deficiencies in company's electronic I-9 system.

This fine has surprised both employers and lawyers, especially considering that the ICE had previously said that it would focus its efforts on employers suspected of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. It reinforces not only the importance of proper I-9 completion but also the responsibility of employers to ensure that the electronic I-9 systems they use are in compliance.

Robert Loughran, a lawyer quoted in the article, notes that his firm has identified 43 different mistakes employers can make when completing an I-9. So even an employer who thinks they are diligently completing these forms could unknowingly be making mistakes that could come back to bite them if the ICE comes knocking.

If you are running contractors through your own back-office, you are the one responsible for the proper completion of your contractors' I-9s. One way to get around this responsibility, and the liability, is to outsource the employment of contractors to a contracting back-office, which will serve as the Employer of Record and take on these administrative employment tasks so you can focus on what you do best - recruiting!

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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