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San Diego Restaurant Charged With Hiring Undocumented Workers

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Aired 4/23/10

A San Diego restaurant and catering company has been charged with hiring undocumented workers, according to the U.S Attorney's Office. The 16-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Wednesday alleges The French Gourmet hired and retained undocumented workers, even after learning their names didn't match Social Security numbers.

— A San Diego restaurant and catering company has been charged with hiring undocumented workers, according to the U.S Attorney's office. The 16-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Wednesday alleges The French Gourmet hired and retained undocumented workers, even after learning their names didn't match Social Security numbers.

Jeremy Warren, the attorney for restaurant manager Richard Kauffmann, said hiring laws are confusing because employers are told not to hire undocumented workers, but they’re also told it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or national origin.

“And so you have people like my client who’s been a bakery chef for 40 years – he’s a master pastry chef," explained Warren. "He’s not a lawyer, he’s not an immigration specialist, he’s not an expert in the field. He’s trying to run a kitchen in a very high-paced environment.”

The indictment follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. In May 2008, officials arrested 18 restaurant employees on suspicion of working illegally in the U.S.

In May 2006, the Golden State Fence Company in San Diego was charged with illegally hiring undocumented workers. Company executives plead guilty in the case and agreed to pay a $5 million fine.

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