January 9, 2012
Teaching Hospital Will Pay $115,000 for I-9 Violations
The Department of Justice ("DOJ") announced another I-9 settlement in which the University of California San Diego Medical Center agreed to pay a $115,000 civil penalty for improper I-9 procedures. In addition to the civil penalty imposed, the organization must also implement new I-9 procedures, conduct I-9 training and work with the DOJ moving forward to ensure continued compliance. The DOJ's investigation revealed that the teaching hospital engaged in a practice of requiring non-U.S. citizens to produce specific pieces of documentation for purposes of Form I-9 completion.
The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits employers from placing unfair documentary practices on employees during the Form I-9 process, as these discriminatory practices result in document abuse. Document abuse occurs when employers engage in any of the following:
Improperly requesting that employees present a particular document, such as a green card or passport, for Form I-9 completion;
Improperly requesting that employees produce more documents than required by Form I-9;
Improperly rejecting documents that reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the employee; or
Improperly treating groups of applicants differently.
In practice, employees must present original documents that establish identity and employment authorization within three business days of the first day of work for pay. Employees must be allowed to choose which documents they present from the List of Acceptable Documents, and the employer cannot require specific documentation. Employees have the option to present either a document from List A or a combination of documents from List B and List C.
This settlement comes during a time when there has been an unprecedented increase in Form I-9 enforcement, which has resulted in significant penalties for employers. Health care organizations should specifically take note of this enforcement, as several recent DOJ lawsuits have involved employers in the health care industry, and the industry is predisposed to I-9 issues due to the size and complexity of the workforce. In one settlement, a health care network agreed to pay $257,000 in civil penalties for I-9 violations.
Given the increased enforcement in this area, we recommend employers evaluate their current I-9 procedures and work with immigration counsel to review Forms I-9 and develop policies to ensure compliance. Should you have questions, please contact Michael Kim at 317-977-1418 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Natalie Dressel at 317-977-1481 or email@example.com or your regular Hall Render attorney.