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Bloggings on I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

by Bruce E. Buchanan

Chipotle's Troubles Expand

Chipotle Mexican Grill continues to face government investigations. The latest agency to pounce on Chipotle is the SEC - Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Southeastern Conference.

On May 17, the SEC issued a subpoena to Chipotle requesting "information regarding [Chipotle's] compliance with employee work authorization requirements, related public statements and disclosures, and related information." James Brosnahan of Morrison & Foerster, surmised the SEC is "looking for a false statement, omision, or scheme to deceive, especially affecting income." The SEC has not informed Chipotle as to the focus of the investigation, according to a company spokesman.

As expected, it depends on who you talk to as to whether the SEC investigation is unusual. Chiptotle's attorney, Robert Luskin of Patton Boggs, says, "It is not unusual for the SEC to join an investigation under these circumstances to determine whether the company has been forthcoming in its public statements." On the other hand, others, who are not involved in the case, disagree. Michael Wildes, a former federal prosecutor and an immigration attorney, states it is "not common at all" for the SEC to intervene in an Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) case. Stephen Anderson, an analyst for Miller Tabak & Co., says he finds the SEC investigation unusual.

As you recall, Chipotle's legal troubles started in 2010 when ICE conducted an audit of Chipotle's employees in Minnesota, which resulted in 450 workers being terminated for lack of proper work authorization. In February 2011, ICE issued Notices of Inspection to Chipotle's restaurants in the Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia area. This also resulted in the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. to begin its own investigation.

Where all of the investigations will end is anybody's guess. However, this is a stark reminder of the serious consequences that violations of immigration laws can cause. Hopefully, this will serve as a wakeup call to those employers who still don't believe that immigration compliance is serious business.

About The Author

Bruce E. Buchanan is an attorney at the at Nashville Office of Siskind Susser, P.C. He represents individuals and employers in all aspects of immigration law, with an emphasis on immigration compliance for employers, and employment/labor law. Mr. Buchanan received his law degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1982 and a B.S. degree from Florida State University, where he graduated magna cum laude. Mr. Buchanan has been in private practice since 2003. Beforehand, he served as Senior Trial Specialist for the National Labor Relations Board for 20 years. He also served from 1991 to 2003 as Adjunct Professor at William H. Bowen UALR School of Law, where he taught courses in Labor Law and Employment Law. Mr. Buchanan was chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Immigration Law Section from 2011 to 2012 and has been the editor of the TBA's Immigration Law Section Newsletter and the TBA's Labor and Employment Law Section Newsletter since 2009. Mr. Buchanan is a frequent writer and speaker on immigration compliance as well as labor law, wage & hour law and proposed federal legislation. He is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and serves as the Advocacy Liaison of the Mid-South Chapter of AILA. Mr. Buchanan also serves on the Board of Directors for the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) and is an associate member of the Mid-Tennessee Chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors. Mr. Buchanan is admitted to practice in Tennessee, Florida, and Arkansas, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and D.C. Circuits and the U.S. District Courts for the Middle District of Tennessee and the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.