HOSPITALITY Q&A: What are the Penalties for Employing Unauthorized Aliens?

Blog_ Hospitality Q&A_ Unauthorized Aliens 3_8_17With the recent ICE enforcement actions, hospitality establishments are becoming increasingly concerned about their potential exposure for employing unauthorized aliens.

What are the penalties for employing unauthorized aliens?

Employers who knowingly hire, or continue to employ, unauthorized aliens can be fined as follows:

  • First Offense: $539 to $4,313 for each unauthorized alien
  • Second Offense: $4,313 to $10,781 for each unauthorized alien
  • Third and Subsequent Offense: $6,469 to $21,563 for each unauthorized alien

Other civil fines may be imposed for failing to comply with I-9 employment verification requirements and participating in document fraud or abuse.

In more egregious cases, where the employer is engaged in a pattern or practice of hiring or recruiting unauthorized aliens, criminal penalties (including fines and jail time) may be imposed.

In addition to government penalties, a company’s lawful employees can file a class action RICO case against their employer for knowingly hiring undocumented workers and driving down their wages.

What if an employee uses a fake ID?

In some cases, unauthorized aliens will use fake IDs to apply for employment. So long as the employer complies with the employment verification requirements and does not act knowingly, fines should not be imposed.

In fact, employers should NOT request more or different documents than are required to verify employment eligibility, reject reasonably genuine-looking documents, or specify certain documents over others. They could be fined for doing so or face other legal action.


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