- Two former Waste Management supervisors were sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for their role in a scheme that used more than 10 stolen identities to hire more than 100 undocumented workers for a subcontractor in Houston, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.
- The two men, Rudy Martinez and Israel Arquimides Martinez, are unrelated Salvadoran nationals that could face deportation after they complete their sentences. In April 2016, they were convicted by a grand jury on 18 counts involving conspiracy with unauthorized immigrants and identity theft. Three other senior employees were involved and took plea deals.
- The scheme involved using the identities of former employees or applicants and was discovered during an immigration raid in 2012. Following the raid, Waste Management fired multiple employees, hired a new labor program director, switched to a new staffing agency and implemented new internal controls.
During the trial last year, evidence was presented showing that this had been occurring since at least 2008. Israel Martinez's attorney has argued that it isn't fair for his client, a lead driver, to bear the brunt of this punishment because employing undocumented workers was common in the local waste industry and he didn't have a senior role in the company. Co-defendant Rudy Martinez was a route supervisor.
Accurate statistics on the potential number of undocumented workers in the waste industry aren't available, in part because of the transitory nature of temporary work and different record-keeping standards among staffing agencies. Due to the changing nature of waste volumes, temporary workers are often called to work at recycling facilities or on collection routes. Research has shown that this can lead to higher injury rates without proper training. Last year, OSHA renewed a partnership with the American Staffing Association to continue focusing on these issues across all industries.
One of the methods that employers and staffing agencies can use to check immigration status is the federal system E-Verify. The system is currently mandatory for federal contractors and available as a voluntary pilot. A lack of thorough background checks has also allowed for criminal activity in New Jersey's construction waste industry recently and led to calls for tighter state regulations.