Is Your Company Prepared for an I-9 Audit? What to Expect During and After a Visit from ICE or DHS

ICE auditWhile immigration enforcement and oversight have occurred under the purview of all past presidents, the Trump Administration has publicly made them a leading policy priority.  Immigration raids and detentions at the border are the most visible aspects of this policy, but administrative oversight of employment documentation has also increased and will likely have the greatest impact on the majority of employers. One area where this is especially true is with Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s oversight of employer’s I-9 forms.

Worksite immigration enforcement rose drastically in the fiscal year 2018 compared to the previous year, following a commitment made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in late 2017 to step up its worksite enforcement efforts across the country.

All worksite enforcement categories surged by 300 to 750% over the previous fiscal year. Here are some surprising numbers:

• 6,848 worksite investigations in 2018 compared to 1,691 in 2017;
• 5,981 I-9 audits in 2018 compared to 1,360 in 2017;
• 779 criminal arrests compared to 139 in 2017 (including arrests and indictments of managers); and
• 1,525 administrative worksite-related arrests compared to 172 in 2017.

What is an I-9 Form?

i-9The I-9 Form is an instrumental part of the new employee on-boarding process, and should be completed within the first 3 days of hire.  This form is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States, including both citizens and non-citizens. Failure to maintain proper I-9s can lead to a variety of monetary fines or even criminal penalties if an employer intentionally misrepresents I-9 information.

What Can Go Wrong? During an Audit

On its face, the I-9 form appears to be a fairly simple and straightforward document. However, many employers fail to accurately input all required documentation, fail to obtain proper employee documentation, or fail to properly store and maintain I-9 records. Any of these oversights can lead to potentially costly fines in the event of an audit. Our clients who have been officially audited told us that ICE reviewed every line of an I-9 form for accuracy and will issue fines for every entry that is inaccurate. Therefore, it is vital that employees responsible for handling I-9 documentation be fully trained with respect to I-9 procedures. For a detailed overview of the I-9 process, see our previous article, 6 Tips for Avoiding Costly I-9 Mistakes. Continue reading

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All California Employers with 5+ Employees Must Provide Sexual Harassment Training in 2019, Even if Trained in 2018

HARASSMENTOn September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law S.B. 1343, which now requires that employers with 5 or more employees in California provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct training to non-managerial employees, and 2 hours for managerial employees once every two years. Managerial employees must receive training within 6 months of hire or promotion.

BY WHAT DATE MUST EMPLOYEES BE TRAINED?

calendarAll managerial and non-managerial employees must receive training by January 1, 2020. After January 1, 2020, employees must be retrained once every two years. That means that all employees statewide must be retrained again by January 1, 2022.

WHAT IF MY EMPLOYEES WERE TRAINED BETWEEN JANUARY 1 AND DECEMBER 31, 2018?

The law requires that employees be trained during calendar year 2019. According to the recently released DFEH FAQsemployees who were trained in 2018 or before will need to be retrained.

S.B. 1343 requires that the California Department of Employment and Fair Housing (DFEH) make online training courses available on the prevention of sexual harassment and abusive conduct in the workplace. However, DFEH does not expect to have such trainings available until late 2019. Therefore, in order to ensure that your employees receive the required training by January 1, 2020, it is best to schedule training now to secure the availability of a trainer, account for any employee make-up sessions, and to train in multiple sessions to stagger the number of employees who are taken away from work to attend training. Continue reading

Has Your Company Been Reimbursing its Employees for Personal Cell Phone Use on the Job?

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

cell phone 2Since January 1, 2016, California employers must reimburse employees for use of their personal cell phones for mandatory business purposes.  (Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc). This ruling affects millions of employers who must update their company policies in order to stay compliant with the new law.  While this law has been on the books for over two years now, it appears as though many companies have not addressed this law or made it part of their employee reimbursement practices.  Is your company reimbursing its employees for their cell phone call and data usage?  Read below for policy suggestions.

What does this mean for employers?

According to Cochran, California employers must indemnify employees for all “necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer.” Unfortunately, even four years after this case was decided, the exact measure of reimbursement is still somewhat unclear.  While the court in Cochran determined that employers must consistently reimburse employees a “reasonable percentage,” it did not define what is reasonable. Furthermore, the employer must reimburse the employee even if the employee does not incur any additional expense on his or her cell phone/data plan as the result of using the device for work-related purposes (i.e. if the client has unlimited talk, text, and data plans).

This law is now reflected in California Labor Code section 2082: Continue reading

Updates to California Labor Law Posters

CapitolStay up to date with recent changes to California labor law posters!  In order for your business to stay in compliance with these recent changes, the updated posting(s) must be downloaded, printed, and then posted next to your current labor law poster. Remember, labor law posters must be posted in a conspicuous location so that all employees may see them.

1. EDD- Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, Paid Family Leave:

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has updated its EDD notice regarding Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Paid Family Leave. The updated notice reflects a change to the online application platform, as well as formatting changes. The department recommends maintaining updated information, however, this update will not be mandatory until January 1, 2019. The poster revision date is August 8, 2018.

Continue reading

Jennifer Grady, Esq. Speaks at San Diego Global Investment Forum on Immigration Options for Investors, Entrepreneurs, and Global Employees

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Ms. Grady speaking on the FDI panel about immigration in the Trump Era (09/20/18)

Jennifer Grady, Esq. has been invited to appear as a panelist at the San Diego Global Investment Forum in sunny San Diego, California.  This event, which will took place on September 19-20, 2018, is hosted by the San Diego Global Partnership.  As part of the panel on “Foreign Direct Investment,” Ms. Grady shared her expertise on immigration options and trends for investors and employees who are relocating to Southern California.

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FDI panel of attorneys, tax advisors, and US-bound entrepreneurs

Other panels focused on real estate development and investment, technology and innovation, domestic funding and alternative investment, and city collaboration.  Speakers and attendees had the opportunity to network at the welcome cocktail reception on the evening of September 19, and the finale networking reception on September 20.  In addition, there was a Development & Innovation tour of San Diego on September 21 for investors interested in an overview of San Diego.

DSC07082This unique investment-focused event drew attendees from around the globe who recognize San Diego and the greater Southern California region’s incredible growth opportunities over the next ten years. For example, CBRE’s “Americas Investor Intentions Survey” for 2018 recognizes the up-and-coming nature of the region by recognizing that, “the Southern California market ranked number 11 for investment in the US, up from number 17 last year.”

This was the first year for the Forum, which is open to any individual, developer, institution, company, fund, or organization that wants to learn why San Diego is rapidly climbing the economic changes and why they should be looking at San Diego and Southern California as their next investment opportunity.

Coronado bridgeThis two-day forum offers a unique platform to learn from and meet San Diego’s Mega Region innovation, development, business, municipality, political, and thought leaders in one room.
Who should attend?

Continue reading

Additional Employer Requirements Under San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance

San FranciscoIn California, employees can apply for paid family leave (PFL) benefits administered through the California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).  These PFL benefits are funded through employee-paid payroll taxes, and provide eligible employees with six (6) weeks of partial wage replacement.  No state-wide law requires that employers offer paid parental leave.

San Francisco, however, has enacted a local ordinance, the San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (SFPPLO), which requires that covered employers supplement an employee’s PFL benefits.  As of January 1, 2018, the SFPPLO applies to any San Francisco-based employer with 20 or more employees worldwide.  Thus, any employer with more than 20 employees would need to offer eligible employees who work in San Francisco with fully paid leave that complies with the SFPPLO and would need to revise its parental policy accordingly. Continue reading

California Labor and Employment Updates for 2018

CapitolThe California Legislature has passed the following labor and employment bills, which will become law effective January 2018.

PRIOR SALARY AND PRIOR CONVICTIONS

Salary History Information

AB 168 prohibits employers from asking job applicants for “salary history information,” which includes both compensation and benefits.  But where an applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” discloses salary history information, the employer may rely upon the information in setting the applicant’s starting salary.  As a result, questions about prior salary may not be asked in job applications or interviews by an employer or an agent of the employer.

Additionally, AB 168 requires employers to provide the pay scale for a position if the applicant requests it.  This bill makes California the first jurisdiction in the country to require that employers provide applicants with the pay scale for a position, upon “reasonable request.”

This bill applies to employers, both private and public, and will become effective January 1, 2018. Continue reading

Plaintiffs Given Broad Access to Discovery in PAGA Suits by California Supreme Court

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by Grace Lim-Ayres, Esq.

On July 13, 2017, the California Supreme Court in Williams v. Superior Court (Marshalls of CA, LLC) issued an opinion addressing the scope of discovery in representative actions brought under PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, codified in Cal. Lab. Code § 2698 et seq.).  The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations.

The Williams Court unanimously reversed the trial court’s discovery order denying plaintiff access to statewide contact information for fellow employees of other Marshalls stores.  It held that plaintiffs in PAGA actions have access to a broad scope of discovery similar to discoverable information in a class action.  The plaintiff is entitled to statewide contact information at the onset of the case to determine which cause of action to plead, and whether a broader representative action is warranted.

In what could be considered another blow to employers in an already employee-friendly state, given the relatively low threshold for pleading, employees may now bring more PAGA claims that are in fact “fishing expeditions”, which will in turn require employers to spend more time defending against them.  In addition, it is clear that statewide contact information is relevant and discoverable in a PAGA claim at the outset of the case. Continue reading

The Grady Firm Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary

DSC02492Thank you to all of our clients, referral partners, friends, and colleagues who attended The Grady Firm‘s Fifth Anniversary Party on April 6, 2017 at our firm’s Beverly Hills headquarters.  We had an amazing time catching up and making new connections!  We were humbled by our guests’ outpouring of support, and that many of them braved over two hours of traffic each way (and even a plane ride!) to be part of our special celebration. Our guests were able to make some new connections of their own, and have already started doing business together with their new connections.

During the event, we presented a slide show with the firm’s milestones, which you can view here.

Heartfelt thanks go to Good Heart Catering for graciously catering this event, ProChile Los Angeles for donating bottles of Chilean wine and Pisco, the California Employers Association for donating a $50 visa gift card and webinar ($109) value, and to Tom and Donna Grady for helping before, during, and after the event. Continue reading

How to Comply With E-Verify Requirements

712fv2lM04L.pngby Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On November 2, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice increased monetary penalties substantially for employers who knowingly employ an unauthorized worker. Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is unlawful for an employer to hire or continue to employ a person knowing that the person is not authorized to work in the United States. This law requires that employers verify employment eligibility of all employees by completing a Form I-9.  Failure to comply with these rules subjects employers to substantial penalties. Continue reading

New Year, New Employer Responsibilities for January 2017

Golden gateCalifornia legislators continue to create new and revise old laws.  A summary of the changes for 2017, and annual best practices recommendations, are provided below:

  1. Take note of increase to minimum wage and update in payroll/ with payroll processor
  2. Advise employees of decreased mileage reimbursement to 53.5 cents per mile
  3. Post updated federal, state, and local ordinance posters in common areas
  4. Use updated I-9 form by January 21, 2017
  5. Distribute Notice to Employee to reflect changes in wages or company polices within 7 days of the change
  6. Update Employee Handbook (annually) and conduct Performance Reviews
  7. Ensure personnel files are up to date with signed documents (including Anti-Harassment policy and Arbitration Agreement, among others)
  8. Schedule Sexual Harassment training
  1. Minimum Wage

fee-increaseAs of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage has been increased to $10.50 per hour in California for employers with 26 or more employees, and remains at $10.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

In addition, several cities will see an additional increase in the minimum wage.  The following is a short list of cities with more expansive minimum wages for employers of all sizes, unless otherwise noted: Continue reading

IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rates Decrease in 2017

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© Jennifer Grady

Beginning January 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are the following:

  1. 53.5 cents per mile for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck for business miles driven (down from 54 cents in 2016).
  2. 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents in 2016).
  3. 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged).

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs. Continue reading

Online filing with the EDD will be mandatory for Companies with 10+ Employees in 2017

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Beginning Sunday, January 1, 2017, employers with 10 or more employees will be required to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports, and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). Employees with fewer than 10 employees will be subject to this requirement beginning January 1, 2018.

This mandate also applies to out-of-state employers who report payroll taxes to the EDD.

The e-file and e-pay mandate requires the following returns, reports, and payments to be electronically submitted: Continue reading

New I-9 Form Must be Used by Jan 21, 2017

I-9The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that an updated Form I-9 has been approved. While the current form had a revision date of 03/08/2013 N and expired in March this year, is is acceptable for continued use until January 17, 2017.

On August 25, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. USCIS must publish a revised form by November 22, 2016. After January 21, 2017, all previous versions of Form I-9 will be invalid. Make sure you are always using the most current, acceptable version of the Form I-9, and ensure that the I-9 is completed by all new employees within three days of hire.

For more information on self-audits and other Form I-9 issues, see the “Handbook for Employers” https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/m-274.pdf issued by USCIS. Find the latest version of the I-9 form here.

JGrady Firm-Logo-2016The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys specialize in helping businesses grow and succeed through employment, business, and immigration law advising for clients in California.  They help perform personnel audits, train employers on employment law compliance, provide on-demand legal analysis for hiring and firing questions, and provide leadership and sexual harassment training in English and Spanish.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

Is Your Company Reimbursing Employees for Use of Their Cell Phones?

Updated September 24, 2018

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

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New Cell Phone Laws for Employers

As of January 1, 2016, California employers must reimburse employees for use of their personal cell phones for mandatory business purposes, as decided by the California Appellate Court in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. The ruling affects millions of employers who must update their company policies in order to stay compliant with the new law.  While this law has been on the books for over two years now, it appears as though many companies have not addressed this law or made it part of their employee reimbursement practices.  Is your company reimbursing its employees for their cell phone call and data usage?  Read below for policy suggestions. Continue reading