A little known federal law has resulted in the
world’s largest restaurant chain, McDonalds Corp, into having to sign a
settlement agreement with the US Justice Department on November 19, 2015. This
concludes an investigation into unfair documentary practices by the company
going back several years, but it is not the end of the road just yet.
The headlines this morning all boasted the $355,000
civil fine levied against McDonalds, but this is a company with an economy of
its own larger than the country of Ecuador! Instead, the real problem at
McDonalds right now is the consequences and unforeseen costs of complying with
the settlement as well as federal law.
So what was all this about anyway? Why would an
organization with vast resources and layers of compliance officers end up in
the cross hairs of the Justice Department for something as asking workers who
were permanent residents to produce updated documents? For many folks this may
seem like the logical thing to do, but assuming or being creative about federal
law does not sit well with federal investigators.
Federal Law says that two parties are exempt from
having their employment re-verified, American Citizens and Permanent Residents.
This is the one group who will ultimately benefit from immigration law as legal
residents who belong in this country and they are not to be asked for
additional documentation after having already done so. Even the compliance
layers at McDonalds could not protect against this violation and it will now
cost them well past the civil fine.
The problem perhaps is the constant change to
employment verification laws over the past 30 years and American voters are
still not satisfied enough is being done. Employers are slow to realize the
serious consequences and the very specific details that come into play for
verifying employment eligibility. No longer can these regulations be overlooked
or corporate practices assumed to be up to date, it is the responsibility of
all American employers and the Justice Department is only increasing resources
to ensure this.
As this week concludes and the headlines begin to
fade away, the rest of the settlement agreement only brings to light the
upcoming troubles still in store for McDonalds Corp. Those details include such
things as having to produce documentation and regular reports for the Justice
Department’s Office of Special Counsel. Additionally, the company will have to
pay for training for all Human Resources Consultants and General Managers.
Five regularly scheduled trainings per month will be
attended with the company having to detail and report the attendance records
before sending them to the government. Back pay will be offered to workers
identified as having been affected by these practices and this even includes
people who were terminated. Additionally, the settlement doesn’t bar further
suits or investigations into the company and it also specifically opens the
company’s documentation and practices to regular review and scrutiny.
McDonalds, with annual hiring of over a million
workers, has just found itself a babysitter for the next two years and that
problem is far worse than the $355,000 fine.
Labels: civil fine $355000, compliance, department of justice, discrimination, e-verify, employment verification, Form I-9, hr violation, McDonalds Corp fined, McDonalds settlement, risk reduction