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Two Companies Ordered to Pay Penalties for Missing I-9s

The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) recently published two precedent decisions where companies (Castles Daycare and Pegasus Restaurant) were ordered to pay penalties for missing I-9s. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) treats missing I-9s as the most serious of paperwork violations, and the court will adjust the fine only in cases where it’s out of proportion to the company’s resources. In other words, big companies beware! Both of the companies were unable to escape liability for missing I-9s because of the substantive nature of the errors, but each had their initial fines adjusted and substantially reduced based on the fact that they are small businesses. Typically, ICE will aggressively pursue the highest fine amount based on its own internal guidelines – the higher percentage of violations, the higher the fine. However, ICE’s penalties are intended to deter future violations without putting a company out of business.

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