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U.S pushes for hefty fines for businesses who hire undocumented workers

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On Tuesday, the United States Department of Labor, revealed that a central Pennsylvania McDonalds’ franchise has agreed to pay $211,000 in back pay and wages. The violations include actions that affected about 291 employees who worked for the McDonalds’ franchise owned by the Cheung Enterprises LLC and President Andrew Cheung of Middletown. McDonalds’ isn’t the first or last company to be fined for their use of undocumented workers.

In February, the Department of Labor revealed that Sunnyvale, Calif.-Based Bloom Energy Corp. has been ordered to pay $31,922 in back wages. The workers had been brought into California from Chihuahua, Mexico to work on power generators alongside American workers. A U.S. District Court judge ordered the payments after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division disclosed that the employer willfully violated the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standard Act. (http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd/WHD20130137.htm)

The undocumented worker wants to enter the United States for one main reason, to find work. It has been speculated, if there weren’t any employees who would hire these workers, it would stop the tide of illegal aliens. According to the White House. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration/strengthening-enforcement) since January 2009,“I.C.E has audited more than 8,900 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor, debarred 8,590 companies and individuals, and imposed more than $100.3 million in financial sanctions—more than the total amount of audits and debarments than during the entire previous administration.”

Still the illegal use of undocumented workers continue. The concept now, though, is to go after the business owners rather than just the employee themselves. Companies can now verify a documented workers' status more easily with the website E-Verify. Since January 2009, with more than 416,000 participating companies representing more than 1.2 million hiring sites. More than 20 million queries were processed in Fiscal Year 2012.

There have been advances in the investigations of companies who hire and used undocumented illegal employees, still companies try to get one over on the competition by knowingly employing undocumented workers. These companies are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by the rules.

Companies such as Chuy's Mesquite Broiler was recently fined, $17,775 for not completing paperwork related to the employment of non-American workers. Through the program of E-Verify, Chuy’s should have known that two of its employees did not have the correct status for working in the U.S.

The investigations will continue for the agencies regulated to oversee employment and with new tools more fines will be imposed.

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