Attorney Offers Dairies Advice on Government Raids, Inspections

November 9, 2011 03:21 PM

Tips on I-9 audits offered at Elite Producer Business Conference.

Dairy producers should know their rights and the law to prepare for possible inspections by government agencies, attorney Anthony Raimondo told attendees today at the 10th annual Elite Producer Business Conference (EPBC) in Las Vegas, Nev.
“This is the U.S., and you do still have private property rights,” said Raimondo, who is with the law firm of McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte and Carruth in Fresno, Calif.

Find Anthony Raimondo's presentations from last week's Elite Producer Business Conference here.

In comparing the differences between government agencies, Raimondo noted:
  • Cal/OSHA must have reasonable cause for inspection and is not required to give advance notice of an inspection.
  • Investigations by the Department of Labor may be made with little or no notice, except regarding I-9 audits. The Department of Homeland Security has delegated authority to the DOL to audit I-9 forms on three days’ written notice.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may conduct a raid or an I-9 audit. A raid requires a warrant, which is a court order that gives agents permission to search your property. Agents are not entitled, however, to search outside the scope of the warrant. Resisting a warrant may result in contempt of court.
“During a raid, you may accompany ICE officers on their search,” said Raimondo. “Always take notes on everything that is occurring. Don’t hide employees, advise them to run or hide or help them escape from the premises.”
  • An ICE audit requires three days’ advance notice in writing. “You are technically required to produce only the I-9 forms for inspection,” he said. “If ICE wants to see anything else, you can require the agent to get a valid subpoena. 
“You are not required to keep or produce photocopies of the documents employees presented to establish identity and/or employment eligibility, so don’t do it,” said Raimondo.
If the audit is going to be on company premises, be sure to sequester the ICE agents to limit their access to the business. If the agents cannot be sequestered, then the company will deliver copies to the agency for the audit. 
If, while preparing for the audit, a dairy employer discovers errors on I-9s or missing forms, don’t correct the errors prior to the audit, Raimondo said. Federal regulations allow employers 10 business days after notification of a technical error on the I-9 to correct the error, and most minor technical problems can be corrected during this period.
“If an I-9 is missing altogether, then the employer should immediately have the employee complete an I-9,” Raimondo said. “Never back-date an I-9 to the date of hire.
“The I-9 is key to protecting yourself under immigration law,” he added. “Take the time to make sure your I-9s are absolutely perfect.”
Sponsored by Dairy Today, the two-day conference drew 400 dairy producers and industry representatives.

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