By Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

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The Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) just published its decision in United States v. Clean Sweep Janitor Service. OCAHO reduced Clean Sweep’s fines from $12,623 to $6,750.

It all began with an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) into Clean Sweep, the janitorial service it paid to clean its own offices for over a decade. The company also apparently cleaned EOIR’s offices until, Clean Sweep says, they lost their cleaning contract with both agencies “to an unlicensed contractor that pays employees under the table” and underbid Clean Sweep “by forty percent.”

According to the complaint, Clean Sweep is a woman-owned small family business located in Alpine, California. With only 10 active employees, it has cleaned the offices of a long list of other federal agencies including IRS, SSA, and DEA.

ICE’s investigation failed to find any unauthorized workers at Clean Sweep, but found that the company failed to prepare I-9 Forms for 15 current or former employees. ICE sought an adjusted penalty of $12,623 which Clean Sweep felt was excessive and would be a “devastating financial blow” to the company.

In assessing the final penalty amount, OCAHO looks to 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(e)(5) and must consider the following factors:

1) the size of the employer’s business;
2) the employer’s good faith;
3) the seriousness of the violations;
4) whether or not the individual was an unauthorized alien; and
5) the employer’s history of previous violations.

Factors in favor of Clean Sweep were that the company had no history of previous violations, there were no unauthorized workers found, and as a small business it should benefit from the general public policy of leniency to small entities set forth in the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.

OCAHO fined Clean Sweep $6,750 for its failure to prepare I-9s for 15 employees, stating that it regards this offense as one of the “most serious violations because it completely subverts the purpose of the employment verification requirements.”

A copy of the decision is available here. Cite as U.S. v. Clean Sweep Janitor Service, 11 OCAHO no. 1226


siskind_susser_logo.jpg ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Buchanan is an attorney with the law firm of Siskind Susser P.C. - www.visalaw.com - a full service U.S. immigration law firm representing employers and individuals nationwide for over 20 years. You can also follow this author on social media via Facebook and on Twitter @BuchananVisaLaw .