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More federal inquiry for Chipotle in wake of I-9 raid

More than a year ago this blog reported a story of the immigration I-9 audit directed toward the Chipotle restaurant chain. At the time, Chipotle was one of the largest companies to fall under the scrutiny of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement under an I-9 compliance audit. The company eventually let go hundreds of workers after the ICE I-9 raid.

In January, Chipotle said it was voluntarily using the federal E-Verify system in its employment verification efforts. At that time, as this blog reported, Chipotle announced that it was hoping to see immigration reform. The company said that it always sought to comply with employment verification laws, but was not seeking to be overzealous in the process. Unfortunately, it appears the federal government is still interested in the past employment verification records as more federal agencies are reportedly seeking those past records.

The company maintains that it did nothing wrong in the past in its employment eligibility verification efforts. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors are now reportedly seeking more information. The new recent federal inquiries have caught the company off-guard. The restaurant chain has already sent the federal government over 300,000 pages of documents, and the company thought the issues were winding down.

The SEC reportedly subpoenaed the restaurant chain seeking more information related to its hiring practices and federal prosecutors are also interested in the SEC investigation. Apparently, the prosecutors are looking into possible criminal violations the hiring practices may implicate under U.S. securities laws.

The restaurant chain says that it is fully cooperating in the investigation, and says it has done nothing wrong. Chipotle now expects that the expanded federal investigation may take one or two more years.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Chipotle federal immigration probe: 'We didn't do anything wrong'," Tiffany Hsu, May 23, 2012

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