In the last post, this blog began a discussion about the aftermath of the Chipotle restaurant chain’s I-9 audit, where immigration officials reportedly found hundreds of workers who may not have had proper employment eligibility verification documentation.
Chipotle restaurants are still working on the I-9 compliance issue, which has not been completely resolved-potential fines and other action remain looming. The investigation reportedly continues. However, the national business has modified its internal policies in hiring sine the silent audit cost the chain hundreds of workers.
The company says that in the past it did not intentionally hire undocumented workers. The company’s co-leader tells the Wall Street Journal that when the restaurant chain checked the employment eligibility status of potential employees the company’s “goal was to be zealous, but not overzealous.” Now, Chipotle voluntarily participates in the federal E-Verify system when hiring new employees, which is often in the fast growing national chain.
Chipotle says it relies on immigrants, not only as employees, but as customers of the fast growing chain. The company leaders wish to see meaningful immigration reform. One U.S. Senator says the company’s co-leader in “not a quiet, retiring guy.” He reportedly has made it clear to the Senator that during the I-9 audit experience, the business leader “had gone through a traumatic experience, an experience at war with how business and this country ought to work.”
Chipotle was not alone in the silent raids conducted last year. The Journal reports that Immigration and customs enforcement has conducted more than 5,900 I-9 audits since January, 2009. The majority of audits reportedly have occurred in the construction, hospitality, manufacturing and farming sectors.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “A CEO’s Demand: Fix Immigration,” Miriam Jordan, Dec. 19, 2011