Avoiding Fines by Starting the I-9 Process Early. Just Not Too Early…

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As we have noted in prior posts, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has been aggressively pursuing I-9 inspections and imposing record fines (about $12.5 million per year) as part of its multi-year strategic plan. Employers should not turn a blind eye to this uptick in enforcement activity and would be wise to fight back by improving their compliance. One of the top concerns must be timely completion of the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification. An employer has a very short period in which to complete the I-9 process with the new hire: by the first day of employment for section 1 (the employee’s section) and by the third business day after employment begins for section 2 (the employer’s section). Late I-9 Forms constitute substantive violations. An employer cannot avoid a substantive violation by arguing that it tried to comply in good faith. Continue reading this entry

Staying on Top of Federal Contractor Regulations

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Earlier this year, the OFCCP began enforcement of extensive amended regulations on Affirmative Action Plans (AAP) and recordkeeping requirements for both protected veterans (VEVRRA) and persons with disabilities (Section 503). These regulations require significant modification to existing AAP, including new requirements for data collection, outreach, and training, “benchmarks” and goals. Companies and entities dealing with federal contractors or subcontractors doing business with the federal government are required to comply with OFCCP regulations. While some of these obligations can be delayed until the 2015 “transition” AAP, others should already be implemented. Continue reading this entry

Approved H-1B? Get the Ball Rolling on Your Consular Application Now!

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Getting an H-1B nonimmigrant visa for new employment with a private employer in the United States has become an obstacle course that now even requires winning a lottery. The process has become so complicated that H-1B beneficiaries lucky enough to find a bona fide offer of employment, win the visa lottery, and actually have their case approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) still cannot start to work in H-1B status until October 1, 2014. Continue reading this entry

No Coach Necessary for Potty-Mouth Employee

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As we have recently noted, and as many employers have probably bemoaned a time or two, sometimes it feels like the legal concept of “reasonable accommodation” has little to do with real-world notions of what is reasonable, particularly when courts are telling employees they might have to allow admitted employee theft as such an accommodation. However, a recent federal court decision suggests that a “reasonable” accommodation can still contain some practical balance, but it also serves to again underscore the importance of an employer’s obligation to engage in the interactive process. Continue reading this entry

Rampant Sexual Misconduct in Indiana Prison Shows Pitfalls for Employers

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“Connie J. Orton-Bell was employed as a substance abuse counselor at a maximum security prison in Indiana. An investigator, who had been looking for security breaches, discovered that night-shift employees were having sex on Orton-Bell’s desk and informed her. That investigator told her that he was not concerned about night-shift staff having sex but suggested she should probably wash off her desk every morning.”

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Believe it or not, this is not a scene from the new season of Orange is the New Black. It’s actually the opening lines from Orton-Bell v. Indiana, No. 13-1235 (7th Cir. July 21, 2014), an opinion authored by Judge Manion, and one of the more entertaining Seventh Circuit opinions in recent memory. Continue reading this entry