California Restaurant Fined $18K for Form I-9 Violations

The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer ("OCAHO") released a ruling on June 21, 2016 fining a California restaurant $18,350 for Form I-9 violations, reducing the penalty significantly from the almost $42,000 fine assessed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"). Administrative Law Judge Stacy S. Paddack ordered East Coast Foods Inc., doing business as Roscoe's House of Chicken N Waffles, to pay a penalty of $18,350, after finding it failed to prepare or present I-9 forms for certain workers, along with other violations related to form completion. ICE had assessed a penalty of $41,935, but the Judge said it was "appropriate to mitigate" the fine due to East Coast Foods' small business size. The decision also noted that although the government had enhanced the suggested fine based on its claim that the company had employed "at least 20 individuals who were unauthorized," ICE had failed to give "sufficient evidence to meet its burden" of showing that the people were unauthorized to work.