by: Holly Novak
What might be the consequences of an I-9 mistake? There was a recent case involving an event planning company that was hit by an administrative judge for 818 Form I-9 violations and a fine of $818,000 which was later reduced to $605,250. What did they do wrong to deserve that fine?
For starters, the overwhelming number of violations charged against Hartmann involved the failure to sign sections 1 and 2 of the I-9 forms. These involve Employee omissions in section 1 (e.g., no signature, no check of box indicating type of employment authorization) and then Employer omissions in section 2 (e.g., no signature, no entry of document presented under List A or List B&C, no expiration dates of document(s) presented).
Another large number of violations came from the use of a self-made “three in one” form that purported to combo the Form I-9, the IRS Form W-4 and union dues authorization into a single form. Needless to say, the federal government does not look highly when you adjust their forms for your own purposes!
Other violations included the following:
- Missing I-9s for some employees
- Delay in providing requested I-9s to ICE during audit
- Lack of timely reverifications in section 3
Hartmann Studios argued the errors were not serious. The judge replied that “the company does appear to need additional motivation to conform its employment verification process to what the law requires.” That ‘motivation’ was in the form of $550 for each of the Section 1 and Section 3 violations, $700 for each of the remaining, more serious, violations and an additional $200 for each of the unauthorized workers, for a total of $605,250.
Lessons Learned : This case demonstrates the need for employers to conduct routine self-audits of their I-9 inventories to ensure that the forms have been properly completed and retained and are ready for inspection. Failing to invest in an effective self-audit and correction program – for even a medium-size employer – can have substantial adverse economic consequences. The Sage HRMS and Sage Abra Suite systems can help you to track your I-9 forms and run reports against them to assure that you have accurate data. Motivated yet??
U.S. v. Hartmann Studios (OCAHO Case No. 14A00008 July 2015)
Audrey E. Mross, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.munckwilson.com