ONTARIO, Calif. — Pro’s Ranch Markets here has released more than 300 employees at its six Phoenix-area stores — 20% of its workforce there — because they were found to be working without proper work authorization documentation.
Julie Pace, a Phoenix-based attorney for the 12-store chain, said an audit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is ongoing at Pro’s other stores — four in Southern California, one in Texas and one in New Mexico.
The audits are part of a national process that began nationally last July and that have been conducted at more than 1,600 businesses across the U.S.
On Pace’s advice, Pro’s began hiring and training an alternate workforce earlier this year and has been operating with extra labor at all stores in anticipation of the ICE investigation. The 300-plus employees who were let go can appeal the ICE findings, but they are prohibited from working during the process, Pace told SN.
Pro’s gave each terminated employee a packet containing an immigration resource list; a parting message from Mike Provenzano, chairman, president and chief executive officer; and a $200 grocery gift card.
Pace said Pro’s has been verifying employees’ status through an online system that became available early in 2008 but that most of the 300 workers who were let go were hired earlier. Pro’s could eventually be fined for hiring the undocumented workers, she added.
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