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Luxury hotelier hit with $2 million tab for immigration violations

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in Employment Background Check,Human Resources

Salt Lake City-based Grand America Hotels and Resorts will pay nearly $2 million for hiring undocumented immigrants following a settlement agreement signed in September between the company, federal prosecutors and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The company—which owns and manages luxury hotels and resorts in Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming—avoided criminal prosecution by cooperating with ICE’s investigation and agreeing to revamp its hiring practices.

According to ICE investigators, lower-level Grand America employees and midlevel managers conspired to rehire unauthorized workers even as ICE was conducting an audit of the company’s I-9 employee verification forms in September 2010. That made it easy for the agency to identify 133 employees who were not authorized to work in the United States.

After the company received a warning notice, company representatives told ICE the employees had been terminated. However, special agents later learned the conspirators created three temporary employment agencies—essentially shell companies—to rehire 43 of the unauthorized workers. Most returned under different names using fraudulent identity documents.

Changes to Grand America’s hiring processes are expected to cost the company nearly $500,000.

Those measures include adopting new employment verification policies and retraining HR staffers on I-9 procedures. The company also agreed to use the government’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification website for all new hires.

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