Vet Steals Workers’ Wages as I-9 Audits Miss Mark

Posted November 1, 2010 in Labor and Employment by Arthur Buono

Do two wrongs make a right? We all know the answer to that one. It’s illegal to hire workers without verifying their citizenship or immigration status. It’s also illegal to exploit undocumented workers by stealing their pay or extorting kickbacks from them.

  • Employers must certify employment eligibility of new hires
  • I-9 audits proving ineffective at uncovering illegal hiring
  • Some employers hire illegals and prey on deportation fears
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Undocumented Workers Kicked Back Overtime Pay

Employers must complete a Form I-9 for every new hire. The employer certifies under penalty of perjury it has examined documents showing the new hire is in the country legally. But the I-9 is proving ineffective against hiring of illegals. And audits of employers’ I-9 records by Immigration and Customs Enforcement haven’t been very effective at finding illegal hiring.

An estimated 7.8 million undocumented immigrants are working in the US. In some places as many as 30 percent of them may be toiling under unlawful conditions. Some employers exploit their workers’ undocumented status for illegal gain, and this has serious economic consequences. Wage theft by employers leads to sub-minimum wage employment in violation of labor laws. It can also put pressure on wages and employment on the economy as a whole.

Wage theft is bad enough, but it can get downright ugly when accompanied by the threat of deportation. A veterinary clinic in the Cincinnati area stands accused of demanding undocumented workers kickback overtime pay or be turned over to immigration officials. As if it could get worse, the workers kicked back the full overtime increment despite having had taxes withheld on it. That’s no way to run a business, and no way to treat workers – legal or illegal.

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