OCAHO Cuts I-9 Fine in Half: Siam Thai Sushi Restaurant

OCAHO Cuts I-9 Fine in Half: Siam Thai Sushi Restaurant

"ICE’s memorandum states that the baseline penalty was set at $935 for each I-9 because the  violations involved 100% of Siam Thai’s workforce. ICE said it then mitigated the penalties by  5% each because of the small size of the employer and the absence of any unauthorized workers,  but aggravated the penalties by 5% each because of a lack of good faith and because of the  seriousness of the violations. ICE treated the lack of previous violations as a neutral factor, so  the net effect of applying all the factors was that the penalty remained $935 for each violation,  which would result in a penalty calculation of $16,830. ... Siam Thai appears to be the prototypical “mom and pop” small family restaurant business. ICE concedes that Siam Thai is a small employer, did not employ unauthorized workers, and has no history of previous violations.  While I concur with ICE’s finding that the violations were serious, the minimal evidence in this record does not support the government’s view that Siam Thai lacked good faith. ... Absent evidence of culpable conduct that goes beyond the mere failure to comply with the verification requirements there has been no showing that Siam Thai lacked good faith. ... A penalty should be sufficiently meaningful to accomplish the purpose of deterring future violations, United States v. Jonel, Inc., 8 OCAHO no. 1008, 175, 201 (1998), without being “unduly punitive” in light of the respondent's resources, United States v. Minaco Fashions, Inc., 3 OCAHO no. 587, 1900, 1909 (1993). Here, while Siam Thai’s violations are considered serious, most of the statutory factors weigh in its favor. Yet ICE’s proposed penalty of $935 per violation is close to the maximum permissible fine. ... The penalties will be set at $500 each for the I-9s of the eleven employees hired in March and April of 2009, $450 for the I-9 of the employee hired in September of 2009, and $400 each for the I-9s of the six employees hired in June and July of 2010, resulting in a total of $8350.” - USA v. Siam Thai Sushi Restaurant, Mar. 21, 2013.