Penalties for Employers Hiring Illegal Immigrants

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What Counts as “Hiring An Illegal Immigrant”?

Under federal law, it is illegal for any employer to hire, recruit or refer for a fee any alien not authorized to work in the United States. This includes hiring contractors who employ illegal immigrants. There are criminal and civil penalties associated with this conduct.

It is also illegal for any employer not to verify work authorization. An employer who does not correctly complete an I-9 for each employee three days after the employee is hired is also subject to criminal and civil punishment.

What Are the Penalties For Hiring An Illegal Immigrant?

For first offenders, there is a $250-$2,000 fine per illegal employee.

For a second offense, the fine is $2,000-$5,000 per illegal employee.

For employers who have been convicted of hiring illegal immigrants more than twice, the fine can range from $3000-$10,000 per employee. If the employer demonstrates a pervasive pattern of knowingly employing illegal immigrants, he or she could face additional fines, and up to six months in jail.

This does not include “harboring” illegal immigrants, or knowingly employing ten or more illegal immigrants in one year. Harboring an illegal immigrant can lead to ten years of prison time.

Additionally, under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act, employers hiring illegal immigrants have been sued, resulting in large settlements. The lawfully documented workers of the Zirkle Fruit Company recently settled a class action lawsuit brought under RICO. The suit alleged that their employer knowingly hired undocumented workers, driving down their wages.

What If the Illegal Immigrant Is Using a False or Stolen Identity?

Illegal immigrants who seek employment often engage in identity theft in order to work in the United States. Employers are required to make a good faith effort to make sure that their employees are legally permitted to work in the country. This good faith effort includes using the Social Security Administration’s website to check if a social security number matches the employee who gave the number.

Do I Need an Attorney To Help With My Employment Of Illegal Aliens?

Employment laws can be a very difficult to understand, particularly when dealing with illegal immigrants. Consult an experienced employment attorney immediately if you have questions about hiring new employees.

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Last Modified: 11-11-2014 10:06 AM PST

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