DETROIT - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced today a $1,047,110 fine settlement reached with the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act related to an employer's obligation to verify the employment eligibility of its workers.
The settlement is the result of a November 2008 Form I-9 inspection of Abercrombie & Fitch's retail stores in Michigan. The audit uncovered numerous technology-related deficiencies in Abercrombie & Fitch's electronic I-9 verification system. The company was fully cooperative during the investigation and no instances of the knowing hire of unauthorized aliens were discovered. Since the initial inspection, Abercrombie & Fitch has taken measures to revise its immigration compliance program, and has begun to implement new procedures to prevent future violations of federal immigration laws.
"Employers are responsible not only for the people they hire but also for the internal systems they choose to utilize to manage their employment process and those systems must result in effective compliance," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI for Ohio and Michigan "We are pleased to see Abercrombie working diligently to complete the implementation of an effective compliance system; however, we know that there are other companies who are not doing so. This settlement should serve as a warning to other companies that may not yet take the employment verification process seriously or provide it the attention it warrants."
Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual's identity and employment eligibility document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual. Additionally, an employer must ensure that the employee provides certain information regarding his or her eligibility to work on the Form I-9.
In 2009, ICE implemented a new, comprehensive strategy to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce. Under this strategy, ICE is focusing its resources on the auditing and investigation of employers suspected of cultivating illegal workplaces by knowingly employing illegal workers. In the last year, ICE has leveled a record number of civil and criminal penalties against employers who violate immigration laws.