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  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 2:49 pm on July 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , #I-9, #ICEraids, #Notice of Inspection, #W-4   

    Crackdown by ICE Targeting Employers 


    This article appeared in the Miami Herald a few days ago and confirmed my suspicion that ICE was cracking down on employers who possibly hire undocumented workers.

    This immigration lawyer has seen an unusual uptick in I-9 Notice of Inspection cases at my office. I see those types of immigration cases about once every few years, but recently, I saw three in the past six months (two in the past 60 days).

    What exactly is an I-9 case or a Notice of Inspection? Many small employers who do not have an HR department may not be aware of the paperwork requirements under federal immigration law. For example, each time an employer hires a new employee, they must get a completed I-9 form, together with the normal W-4 and other new employee paperwork.

    The I-9 form process is full of traps, so ICE knows that any small employer is an easy target. If any employer fails to perfectly complete the form for each new hire, there are fines for EVERY mistake on each form. That means there can be thousands of dollars of fines for each form not completed correctly, including a fine for failure to complete the form within three days of hire. And, of course, as a Houston immigration lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer, I must inform my clients that there are serious fines and penalties for failure to complete the form at all.

    What if the employer has lots of turnover, like the local hamburger store or a Subway franchise. When ICE hand-delivers the Notice of Inspection, they often ask to see I-9 forms for every employee (including former employees) for the past two, or three years. Imagine what the fine could look like for a small business with lots of turnover and thousands of dollars in fines for each form not done perfectly (or at all).

    When I showed this article to my wife, she asked if the employer has to have I-9 forms for American workers as well. Many small businesses may be shocked at the answer, which is, “yes.”  The I-9 must be on file for EVERY employee, including American citizens.

    Bruce Coane, Houston immigration lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer  is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. For further information, I may be reached at or at 713.850.0066 (Texas office) or 305.538.6800 (Florida office).

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 4:44 pm on May 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , #ImmigrationDenials,   

    Immigration Update for 2019 

    In this video, I talk about the USA immigration situation through the first quarter of 2019. While illegal immigration gets much of the news, there have been serious attacks on legal immigration as well. Cases for citizenship and green cards are being denied in greatly exaggerated numbers. I discuss these issues, together with immigration delays, improper denials, and what the general public can do about it.

    Bruce Coane is a Board Certified Immigration Lawyer with offices in Houston and Miami Beach. He may be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800 or via email at

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 10:32 am on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #Taxes, #Undocumented,   

    Undocumented immigrants are paying their taxes 


    Below is a great article about undocumented immigrants who are paying taxes, and how those various taxes are being paid. This is not new to this immigration lawyer because I have seen, for years, how my undocumented clients pay taxes and often don’t get credit for it.

    The article explains the various ways that these immigrants are paying.

    Bruce Coane is a Houston immigration lawyer and a Miami immigration lawyer and is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He may be reached at, or at 305.538.6800 or 713.850.0066.

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 9:45 am on April 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #MelaniaTrump, ,   

    Immigration Update with Introduction to EB-1 Extraordinary Workers 

    This video features Immigration Attorney Matt Gaffron of our law firm, discussing the EB-1 extraordinary worker visa. It is a method to obtain a green card to live and work in the United States.

    Bruce Coane is a Houston immigration lawyer and a Miami immigration lawyer and is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He may be reached at, or at 305.538.6800 or 713.850.0066.

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 3:31 pm on April 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #Severance, #ConocoPhillips, #Trial   

    ConocoPhillips Severance Pay Trial Starts Today 


    This is a photo of my trial team as they get ready to go to court today in an employment law trial against Conoco Phillips, the giant oil and gas company.

    The employment law attorneys in this photo are Connor Throckmorton, Alexandra Okolie, and Edwin Villa. They handle discrimination and wrongful termination cases at our office, Coane and Associates, PLLC. Today’s trial in US District Court-Houston involves a claim for severance pay. Our client was terminated by ConocoPhillips and they claimed he was not entitled to severance pay, all the while they were letting others go and paying them severance in accordance with the company plan.

    Defendants in the case include both the company and the Plan Administrators, Frank Alexander and Dan Mecham. Both Mecham and Alexander were sued because they were administrators of the Plan and were involved at one point in the decision to refuse severance pay to our client.

    During the litigation of the case, there were depositions of human resource workers Caroline Churchill and Heather Sirdashney. It is alleged that these two human resource employees played a role in deciding whether to terminate our client with no severance or to allow him to get severance by laying him off.  The company has backed their decision to terminate with no severance.

    ConocoPhillips filed a motion for summary judgment to try to get the lawsuit dismissed, but the federal judge decided the case must go to trial and he refused to dismiss the case. It is expected that the case will last through Friday of this week.

    For further information, contact Bruce Coane at or at 713.850.0066.

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 2:19 pm on March 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , #InterviewDiscrimination, #SexDiscrimination   

    Interview Discrimination: What Employers Legally Can’t Ask Women 


    Article written by guest blogger: Patrick Foster

    A job interview can be a stressful experience for anyone, even at the best of times. Presenting yourself well, learning about the role, and asking the right questions can be demanding.

    For women, it can be especially frustrating. In a study by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that employers were twice as likely to hire a man over a woman. And women make up only 4.2% of CEOs and just 19.2% of board members at firms on the Standard & Poor’s 500.

    Facing such a potentially tough landscape as a woman in the workplace, it’s important to be aware of what your rights are during the interview stage. So before your next application, read on for some useful insights and actionable advice that will help you navigate the choppy waters of your job interview.

    How common is interview discrimination against women?

    Since the Civil Rights Act was introduced in 1964, huge strides have been made by women in the workplace. Despite significant progress since then (especially in the past five years), women still experience significant discrimination. 42% of women in the US have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, and are twice as likely as men to report discrimination based on their gender while at work.

    Unfortunately, this discrimination extends to the interview process as well. Even before joining a company, female interviewees can be subjected to unfair gender-based prejudices and even illegal questioning.

    Women themselves can often be only too aware of this — finding themselves having to either lie or change their behavior or appearance in order to appear more favorable in a job interview.


    The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was enacted to protect the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. With it came a number of stipulations for businesses, including the condition that employers must amend any tasks that a pregnant woman would have to carry out in the course of her day-to-day duties.

    This applies regardless of the industry they work in, whether it’s office work or more physical work.

    Unfortunately, some employers view this as a burden, and as such will take steps to identify during the interview process if a woman is pregnant, or plans to conceive in the near future. The PDA accounts for this, and consequently it is illegal for employers to ask a woman about pregnancy.

    If you are asked this, refuse to answer. But beware: employers may get around this by phrasing it differently, for example: “do you have plans to start a family anytime soon?” or “are you taking birth control?”

    Physical appearance

    It is federal law that employers cannot choose one job applicant over another based on their physical appearance instead of their experience and qualifications. Unfortunately, women’s experiences of this happening to them are only too common.

    In your interview, watch out for red flags such as your potential employer commenting on your appearance, no matter how minor it might seem. For example, be aware of questions such as “do you do your makeup like that everyday?”.

    If you are asked anything about your appearance, firmly but politely state that you would prefer not to discuss it.


    This is especially common, particularly as the global recession forces more and more older people to stay in work in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately, despite federal labor laws intended to prevent discrimination, women in particular find their age a point of contention during job interviews.

    That said, it is not illegal to ask someone their age during a job interview.

    However, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 does declare discrimination on this basis illegal for people over 40. There are also some state laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination too. However, this can make it tricky to know how to respond if asked.

    As such, if you are asked about your age, redirect them by being forthright about your experience, skills, and qualifications.

    Show them that you know what the role demands and that you are the perfect candidate for the role. Subtly but firmly make clear that your age is just a number, and that your skills and personality are what matters.

    Relationship status

    Federal and several state laws prohibit employers from querying the relationship status of a candidate. While discrimination based on marital status is not explicitly referred to, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act states that businesses cannot discriminate on the grounds of sex. Discrimination on the basis of marital status is often considered discrimination on the basis of sex in the eyes of the law.

    Be wary of personal questions and refuse to discuss it if it comes up. If they contest this, refer to the law and simply state you are not comfortable talking about it. It is your right as a candidate to not discuss your marital status.

    So what can women do?

    It might feel impossible to combat discrimination during or after a job interview, but there are lots of things women can do to combat and prevent this.

    Don’t give too much away

    When you’re applying for a job, be careful not to reveal any personal information about yourself accidentally that is not related to the role itself.

    This often happens before the interview during small talk, as it is easy to let slip private information when your guard is down. To avoid this, keep your written and verbal contact prior to the interview friendly but professional, and think before you speak.

    Take legal advice

    If you feel you have been a victim of interview discrimination, you should lodge a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will look into your claim and determine whether a breach of US law has been made. If this is the case, they will begin legal proceedings.

    If you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against during an interview, you should consider getting a free initial case review from a legal professional. They will consider your situation and advise how you can or should proceed. Speak to a local attorney and request a free initial case review to weigh your options.

    Don’t take to social media

    If you have had a negative experience during or after a job interview and felt as though you were treated unfairly in the process, it can be tempting to voice your indignation on social media.

    However, this is not always wise. Naming and shaming a business or individual can often lead to legal proceedings against the complainant, and can interfere with any investigation into the discrimination against you.

    If you do take to social media to vent your concerns, avoid anything that could possibly identify the employer. That includes specifics such as their name and address, but also general information such as their industry. Play it safe, and follow the steps above rather than taking to social media.

    Beware of leading statements

    It is illegal for employers to make statements that would draw a response from the candidate related to their family or marital status.

    For example, if a potential employer said that they have to leave early once a week to take their children to sports practice, that could potentially encourage the candidate to elaborate on their family situation too.

    We have made huge leaps for women in the workplace in the past few years. More and more women are succeeding in business and the number of females in senior roles is growing, albeit slowly.

    Despite this, the hiring process for female candidates is still rife with discrimination. Do your research and know your rights as a potential employee, and discuss only that which you are legally obliged to.

    If you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against, take the necessary recommended steps to ensure you are protected, as both a candidate and a woman.

    For further information, this Houston immigration lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer may be reached at or at 305.538.6800 or 713.850.0066

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 3:24 pm on February 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    How to Win an H-1B Case After Denial 

    It is well-known that the government has put the H-1B visa program under attack. The USCIS has been denying thousands of cases over frivolous issues which are not even part of the law, but rather pursuant to their warped interpretation of the law or regulations.

    The way to try to win a case that has been denied is to take it to federal court by filing a lawsuit against USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security. Before doing so, however, you must make sure you have made a full and complete record. So, if there is any possible merit to any basis for the denial, I first recommend that the individual or company do a Motion to Reopen/Reconsider, and submit additional evidence to rebut every basis for the denial.

    When you take case to court, you must have a full and complete record from before the USCIS. A federal judge is not normally going to consider any new evidence. So, once the rebuttal evidence is submitted to USCIS through a Motion, and the case is denied again, it is time for court (assuming there are now no valid grounds for denial; if they have new grounds, then do another motion).

    A lawsuit in federal court will challenge the decision, typically, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because the decision is arbitrary, caprices, or not in accordance with the law.  This Houston immigration lawyer and Miami invigoration lawyer has filed many immigration lawsuits under the APA.

    Often, the government simply responds by saying they will not fight the case, and will approve the H-1B. Other times, if they choose to fight, then ultimately a federal judge will decide if they were right to deny the case. The good thing is that most federal judges are not biased and do not have a vendetta like USCIS to attack the H-1B program. So, a fair adjudication is typically expected. Moreover, if a person wins the case, they may be able to recover attorney’s fees for bringing the case, pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act.

    Many individuals who lose an H-1B case simply give up and leave the country. Or, they appeal, lose and then leave the country. However, a lawsuit is the next step, and the filing of lawsuit provides a real opportunity for justice and a fair consideration of the H-1B case.

    For further information, this Houston immigration lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer may be reached at or at 305.538.6800 or 713.850.0066

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 10:45 am on February 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #metoo, #NLRB, #timesup   

    Aon Risk Services Under Federal Investigation: #MeToo Allegations 

    Aon Risk Services Southwest, a division of Aon plc,  a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, is currently under federal investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and is facing a formal complaint filed by the  National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    The allegations before the NLRB are for allegedly  engaging in unfair labor practices, namely for firing  our client in retaliation for engaging in protected concerted activities with other employees for the purposes of mutual aid and protection, by discussing sexual harassment, work environment harassment and sex discrimination in the office with other employees and by complaining about that conduct to Aon. She alleges in her EEOC charge that she was fired as a result of her sex harassment, hostile work environment and sex discrimination complaints to Human Resources at Aon.

    Our client, a former employee of Aon’s Houston office, has retained our Houston employment law firm to represent her in these proceedings. After being sexually harassed by a representative of a multi-million-dollar client of Aon,  our client filed a formal complaint with Aon’s HR department. She alleged that the company representative  said that he would not give her their business unless she had sex with him.

    Aon proceeded to conduct a formal investigation. During the investigation, our client also raised concerns and complained about the “frat house” culture at Aon’s Houston office.  In particular, our client alleges that in her repeated conversations with Managing Director, Tracey Erwin  and Managing Director  Eli Sakellakis she informed her direct management  about the hostile work environment at Aon, and no actions were ever taken by management to correct the violations.

    Our client states that during the investigation, she discussed with Aon’s HR department numerous occasions where co-worker Jimmy Winters behaved inappropriately with both male and female co-workers, but this behavior was dismissed according to our client. The Houston office for Aon Global Energy (Aon plc) where our client worked, is under the direction of CEO, Bruce Jefferis.

    While it is alleged that Aon’s own HR department eventually concluded that our client  was indeed sexually harassed by an Aon client, the investigation aimed at their own work environment concluded much differently.  In fact, before any conclusions were formally made, Aon allegedly retaliated against our client by isolating her, attempting to negatively characterize her work product, and quickly and abruptly firing her, for an alleged breach of Aon’s Code of Business Conduct, according to her EEOC charge.

    Considering the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movement and its uncovering of sexual discrimination and inequality against women in all aspects of business, it is no surprise that a global corporation like Aon has found itself on the receiving end of a formal NLRB complaint and EEOC charge. A formal hearing at the NLRB is scheduled before a judge on March 25, and the EEOC is currently investigating the EEOC charge.

    For further information, Bruce Coane, a Houston Employment Lawyer and Miami Employment Lawyer, may be contacted at 713.850.0066 or at

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 3:49 pm on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #HR, , #Illinois, #Shooting,   

    Illinois Worker Goes “Postal”: 5 Killed 

    Last week, an Illinois factory worker showed up to work with a gun, when he thought he was going to be terminated.

    According to news reports, the worker, Gary Martin, brought the gun into a meeting where he suspected he was going to be terminated. As is typical of such terminations, the Human resources manager was present, together with the plant manager, a supervisor and an HR intern. Many of my clients have been terminated in similar meetings.

    Mr. Martin was a 15-year employee of the company, Henry Pratt Co., in Aurora, Illinois.  I have had many clients who have been long-term employees, and who were fired. The termination happens in meetings just like the one in Aurora. Clients of this Houston employment lawyer and Miami employment lawyer have had jobs at a company for 20, 30 and 40 years when they are suddenly terminated for “performance” issues, or often, when they get a new supervisor.

    I have often wondered how HR or upper-management lets this happen, that is, the termination of a long-term employee who has done a great job, but may have had some incident at work or a new supervisor or some other relatively minor issue compared to their storied career. With all the HR seminars that go on across the country, you’d figure they might discuss the possibility of  having an ombudsman to advocate for these long term workers. After all, the knowledge that has been accumulated and the long term stellar record of work, are compelling reasons to want to keep such employees.

    Of course, shooting and killing the HR manager and plant manager can never be justified. Unfortunately, this has happened many times before, especially within the U.S. Postal Service, thus, the phrase, “going postal.”  I wonder if HR professionals will start to have armed security present in their termination meetings. I’ve certainly had cases where my clients have been escorted off the premises by armed security at their company (always very embarrassing to the employee).

    Surely, HR professionals will be reevaluating the termination process in light of last week’s incident, and perhaps coming up with ways to save the jobs of experienced, long-term employees, rather than firing them in that dreaded termination meeting. Or, perhaps, they will be discussing safer ways to do such terminations where they are not forced to risk their lives.

    Bruce Coane is a Houston employment lawyer and Miami employment lawyer representing workers, nationwide, in cases of wrongful termination. He may be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800, and via email at


  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 11:35 am on January 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , BorderWall, Shutdown   

    Immigration Law Update-January 2019 

    Here is a video featuring one of the Houston immigration lawyers at my office, Matt Gaffron. He provides an update in light of the government shutdown and in general terms about current happenings in immigration law.

    For further information, our Houston immigration lawyers and Miami immigration lawyers can be reached at 713.850.0066 and 305.538.6800. Bruce Coane can be reached at

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