• Two Hospitals Sign Consent Decrees and Pay Fines of $115,000 and $257,000 Respectively for "Document Abuse".
  • January 27, 2012 | Author: Eliot Norman
  • Law Firm: Williams Mullen - Richmond Office
  • Background: The Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel (OSC) investigates and prosecutes employers for discriminating against workers based upon national origin, citizenship status and document abuse under Section 274B of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1986, as amended, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. See http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc. Liability can arise when a company asks foreign looking applicants and employees to produce more documents than U.S. citizens are required to produce to complete or update I-9 Forms. Employers fearful of liability for hiring undocumented workers sometimes violate the law unintentionally by adopting these practices. Another common violation is telling foreign workers which documents to produce to be eligible to work instead of letting them choose from List A or List B and C. See I-9 Form and Instructions at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf.
     
    As a result of such practices, labor unions with significant percentages of Hispanic workers often send complainants to the OSC. To complicate matters further, the OSC has been warning companies not to use the SSNVS system to verify worker social security numbers, even though DOJ has prosecuted employers that routinely fail to use the system for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens.
     
    In California OSC has successfully prosecuted hospitals in two large cases brought in 2010 and 2011. Catholic Healthcare West and affiliated hospitals agreed to pay $257,000 in fines, and UC San Diego Medical Center was just fined $115,000 in December, 2011. The hospitals also had to enter into Consent Decrees that require detailed and extensive supervision by and reporting to OSC on the procedures in place for demanding identity and work authorization documents from new hires. All of this comes on top of confusion and conflicting state and federal E-Verify statutes and I-9 provisions affecting companies operating in any of 18 states. Stay tuned as we track these developments in 2012.