Columbia Farms Inc. to Pay $1.5 Million for Hiring Unauthorized Workers
In order to resolve the investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and the Department of Justice regarding hiring practices at company facilities, Columbia Farms Inc. has agreed to pay $1.5 million and change its hiring practices.
Prosecutors said the federal investigation into Columbia Farms’ hiring practices began in December 2007. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigators began reviewing the company’s I-9 employment eligibility verification forms and supporting documentation for suspected violations. Reportedly, ICE prosecuted 21 supervisory employees who were hired with false documents, and more than 300 employees were deported for being in the country illegally.
Under terms of the agreement, the criminal case against Columbia Farms will continue for 24 months, allowing the company to continue its efforts to institute hiring procedures and controls at each of its eight poultry processing plants in South Carolina, North Carolina and Louisiana. The company will adopt and maintain a compliance program during the two-year period to ensure its hiring practices comply with federal law. The company’s efforts will be reviewed by the court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and immigration enforcement officials. Under the agreement, Columbia Farms must use E-Verify — an Internet-based system that employers use to check on the immigration status of new hires — and train employees on hiring practices. The company also must use an external auditor to conduct annual reviews of employment forms. If the company doesn’t comply with the agreement, prosecutors could still pursue their case.
It is important for employers to pay attention to the following facts:
- The employer’s fine was $1.5 million;
- 21 Supervisory employees were prosecuted;
- 300 employees were deported;
- The employer MUST use E-Verify;
- The employer must use an external auditor (like Form I-9 Compliance, LLC www.formi9.com) to conduct annual I-9 audit reviews.
Complete the form above to learn more about the the best I-9 Auditing and E-Verify service provider, Form I-9 Compliance, LLC (www.formi9.com).