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By: Kelly Moul
The hospitality industry is no stranger to unwanted “special attention” from administrative agencies, including the Department of Labor (DOL) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In 2012, for instance, slightly more than 38% of ICE audits were directed at restaurants.
Many of these audits resulted in proposed fines from ICE, which the employer restaurants then appealed to the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO).
Several decisions were recently issued in these cases, significantly reducing the proposed fines. These cases clearly illustrate that ICE’s proposed fines are usually excessive, and employers can significantly reduce their liability by appealing ICE’s findings after an audit.
Below are a few recent examples of reductions in fines, along with the reasons given by OCAHO for the reductions:
Subway #37616: Reduced from $46,282 à $9,600
Subway ##35029 & 23095: Reduced from $82,280 à $15,800
Black & Blue Steak & Crab: Reduced from $44,165 à $32,850
El Azteca Dunkirk: Reduced from $11,000 à $2,200
Siam Thai Sushi Restaurant: Reduced from $16,308 à $8,350
In 2013, OCAHO is on track to review four times the amount of cases docketed for 2012. This increased litigation is likely due to employers realizing that fighting back against ICE’s assessed fines after an audit often reduces their payout significantly.