Restaurant Executives and Management Accused of Employing Undocumented Workers

Nineteen individuals across several states were charged in a 64-count indictment that was unsealed upon the arrest and initial court appearances of the defendants on August 25, 2021.

The federal indictment alleges that the majority of the named co-defendants staffed restaurants with undocumented workers and failed to pay the appropriate state and federal payroll taxes, overtime wages and worker's compensation for the unauthorized employees.

To shield undocumented workers from detection by immigration authorities, the defendants are accused of:

  • failing to maintain complete and accurate Forms I-9 and required wage/hour reports;
  • assisting with the acquisition of false identification documents (such as Social Security numbers and alien resident documents);
  • eliminating employment records;
  • paying workers by personal check and cash; and
  • making false statements to immigration authorities and law enforcement officials.

The investigation began when the Kansas Department of Labor contacted Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) regarding allegations that unauthorized aliens were employed at one of the enterprise's restaurants. In July, 2018, HSI announced a Form I-9 inspection of that restaurant which revealed that 14 of the 17 employees whose forms were reviewed were not eligible to work. During another inspection in February, 2019, eight unauthorized aliens were identified as ineligible to work, five of whom had been identified as part of the previous inspection.

HSI proceeded to conduct a more comprehensive Form I-9 inspection in June, 2019 of 10 enterprise restaurants, all of which were found to be employing unauthorized workers. Approximately 68 percent of the audited staff were classified as not authorized to work in the U.S. A few months later in September, 2019, another Form I-9 inspection across multiple sites in Missouri and Kansas revealed that all locations were employing unauthorized workers.

Employers are encouraged to periodically review internal Form I-9 records to ensure proper completion of the Form and that all staff are eligible to work in the U.S.

Posted: August 31, 2021

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