FIRST ON 3: Cleveland business audited over worker documentation - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

FIRST ON 3: Cleveland business audited over worker documentation


The management team at Jackson Manufacturing in Cleveland says it is cooperating with a federal audit into worker documentation.

According to the company, recent results of an audit revealed some employees gave suspicious information at the time of their hiring. These documents are currently under review. Employees with suspicious documentation were told to verify their employability or not return. Many have not returned, sources tell Channel 3. 

The executive assistant for Bradley County's mayor tells Channel 3 it wants to know that all employees in the county are verified as being employable.

"They either have to be a U.S. Citizen or have a worker's permit, commonly known as a green card. In other words it's the law," says Don Howell, the county mayor's executive assistant.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, would not comment specifically on an ongoing case but outlined the importance of audits.

"What's the harm of illegal aliens working in the U.S.? It's that illegal aliens often turn to criminal activity including document fraud, social security fraud, identification theft to obtain documents, to obtain employment," ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox says.

Since the investigation is ongoing ICE officials could not speak specifically about the case. "By policy, basically all I can say is that I'm not going to contradict the information that you have," Cox said.

Channel 3 reached out to the plant's HR Director, Todd DeLuca, who says they are working with authorities and are in the process of going through employee documents.

Jackson Manufacturing employs nearly 1,000 workers. Last year, fewer than 20% of ICE inspections lead to criminal prosecution. There is no reported evidence at this time the company is involved in any wrongdoing.

"Penalties for non compliance range from a civil fine to criminal prosecution," says Cox.

In 2012 Cox says ICE served 3,000 notices of inspection to businesses nationwide. More than 500 investigations resulted in criminal prosecution, half of those involved business management and civil fines totaled $12 million.

"Employment is a primary driving force behind illegal immigration," says Cox.

The investigative audit is ongoing. No one or business has been reported as charged or fined.

Company Statement:

Like thousands of other companies across the USA, Jackson Furniture Industries was recently the subject of an audit by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  During the audit it was determined that documents provided by some of the employees at the time of hire contained suspect information.  These documents are currently under review and the matter is being handled internally.  

It was also determined that Jackson Furniture Industries (JFI) had properly followed the lawful procedures of hiring and is not at fault.  

Jackson Furniture Industries is as determined as ever to remain a reliable and safe place of employment in Bradley County and the United States.  We are proudly celebrating our 80th year in business and look forward to continued growth and hiring in the future.

Todd DeLuca

Director of Human Resources

Jackson Furniture Industries

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