Grand America Hotel in Utah

Salt Lake City-based Grand America Hotels and Resorts will forfeit nearly $2 million for hiring unauthorized workers, including illegal aliens, according to a non-prosecution agreement signed last week between the company, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The Sinclair Services Company subsidiary, which operates hotel and resort properties in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Idaho, will avoid criminal prosecution in exchange for its full cooperation with HSI’s investigation and taking action to correct its hiring practices.

According to facts laid out in the agreement, several lower-level Grand America employees and mid-level managers conspired to rehire unauthorized workers amidst an HSI administrative audit of I-9 employee verification forms that began in September 2010. The audit ended a year later with Grand America being notified that 133 employees were not authorized to work in the United States.

The company was issued a warning notice and it told HSI it had terminated the employees.  However, HSI special agents later learned the conspirators created three temporary employment agencies, essentially shell companies, two in August 2011 and one in October 2011, to rehire 43 of the unauthorized workers. The agreement says most of the workers returned under different names using fraudulent identity documents.

“All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law,” said Kumar Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver, which oversees Utah investigations. “As this significant settlement demonstrates, there are real consequences for businesses that employ an illegal workforce.”

As part of the settlement, Grand America will forfeit $1,950,000 to the Department of Homeland Security and is required to take substantial remedial measures, which are expected to cost the company nearly $500,000 to implement. Those measures include: adopting new policies to comply with immigration law; incorporating immigration law compliance clauses into labor service contracts; re-training human resources employees on I-9 procedures; and agreeing to continue to use the E-Verify employment eligibility verification website. In addition, Grand America has agreed to retain immigration and corporate counsel to advise the company regarding hiring and immigration procedures.

I-9 audits occur frequently. Avoid the fate of Grand America Hotels by obtaining and utilizing a copy of our I-9 Compliance Kit.