Posts Tagged ‘fines’

Hiring Illegal Immigrants Could Cost You Big Time

September 20, 2010

The penalty for hiring illegal aliens to work in a restaurant can be quite severe. In one case, profiled recently by the New York Times, the penalties may include up to 30 years in prison and a $4 million dollar fine (not to mention seizure of a restaurant).  However many restaurateurs have been defying the law anyway.

Case Study: San Diego

Michel Malecot, the owner of a small French bistro in San Diego was indicted this past April on charges of having hired 12 illegal immigrants. Why has he become such a cause célèbre?

Unlike many restaurateurs who, however reluctantly let their staff go if they find out that they are working illegally, Mr. Malecot decided to keep his staff on, directly flouting the law. The law that Mr. Malecot is facing off against (and the one forcing him to contemplate 30 years in jail) is one intended to reign in drug dealers and money launderers. While he is not charged with money laundering or drug dealing, that has not stopped federal prosecutors from threatening to throw the book at him.

This can Happen to You!

While the case of Mr. Malecot is of course an extreme one, the reality is that no one in the restaurant industry is really safe employing illegal immigrants anymore. A new policy that the Obama administration recently implemented has called for much tougher penalties for those who hire undocumented workers. The policy also calls for much stricter enforcement of the rules as well.

On the other hand, many restaurateurs have said that they simply cannot live without the undocumented labor. Many Americans, even with the dire job situation today, have refused to take jobs paying minimum wage which involve washing dishes in the back kitchen of a restaurant. The problem has led to the widespread hiring of illegal immigrants along with an unspoken “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy.

Time to Reconsider Restaurant Hiring Policies?

However, several recent high profile indictments (Mr. Malecot’s case is only one of several working their ways through the courts or which have already resulted in stiff judgments) are beginning to force restaurateurs to reconsider their hiring policies.

When a Maryland restaurateur for example was recently forced to fork over $700,000 worth of assets and was faced with the possibility of 10 years in jail, the case sent shivers through the food service industry, forcing many restaurant and franchise owners to redouble their efforts to root out undocumented workers from their ranks.