Employment Law and Chipotle’s Hard Cheese

This week, 1,000 more employers received notice to open their hiring records for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspection.  This latest round of notices brings the fiscal year’s total to 2,338 compliance audits—a record high.

The record high results from the Obama administration’s aim at employers who hire undocumented workers, taking the focus off the workers, themselves.  Employers who hire illegal workers face stiff civil penalties and potential criminal prosecution, if they knowingly employ ineligible workers.  ICE has stepped up the employment eligibility audits, which have resulted in over $7 million in fines levied against employers this year alone—also a record high.

ICE inspects employers’ I-9 employment-eligibility forms, looking to catch undocumented workers and remove them from company payrolls.  This type of inspection audit, in which employers receive notice of a pending compliance check, is becoming more common than the popular sting operations ICE operated in the past.  Recent audits have affected all areas of business, from food production, to financial services, to construction.

Popular restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill recently came under fire for violating employment eligibility laws.  As part of an extensive audit, ICE officials questioned workers at Chipotle restaurants in several states, including California and Georgia.  This expanded investigation follows audits of Chipotle’s Minnesota and Washington, D.C., locations, which led to hundreds of employees losing their jobs.

Chipotle’s quandary is just one facet of employment law, but employment law covers many other aspects of the employer/employee relationship.  Laws protect employees against discrimination in the workplace based on race, gender, religion, or age.  Discrimination can occur during all phases of employment, including hiring, assigning job duties, setting compensation, choosing promotions, and wrongful termination.  At the law offices of Hornberger & Brewer, our employment law attorneys have a thorough command of federal and California state employment law.  We vigorously represent our clients with our civil litigation expertise, trial lawyer experience, and business litigation skills.  If you’re involved in an employment law dispute, we can help.  To learn more about how we can guide you or your business through employment law litigation, visit our website.

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