USDA SNAP CMP – Civil Money Penalty

Posted By Max Soni, On September 25, 2020

The United States of America is a place that has long welcomed people of diverse backgrounds. Part of this welcoming process is ensuring that all those who live there have access to enough calories to sustain themselves. American government officials aim to help people with certain programs. One of those programs is what is known as snap. The purpose of snap is to provide a means for people to buy food. They are given cards known as EBT or Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. These cards are widely accepted at retailers all over the country.

When retailers accept this kind of payment, they are agreeing that they will abide by the laws that govern the process. Regulations determine what can be purchased. These regulations also detail other processes such as how much money the person is allotted for items each month as well as how the recipient may choose to spend that fund in any period. Retailers often rely on these funds for a greater part of their overall business model. When the regulations are breached, it can mean that the company is facing issues from the government that can lead to fines or even an inability to participate in the program entirely.

Potential Fines

The possibility of being removed from participation in this program is a daunting one for any retailer in any state. Retailers who are not allowed to be part of the snap program may rapidly lose customers. This can put them at a huge disadvantage in the short term as well as leading to a massive loss of business in their community over time. Officials who govern the program have realized what not being allowed to participate in the program can mean for retailers across the country. They have made the decision to allow certain retailers to continue to participate in snap even if they have been found guilty of violating certain rules. This is what is known as a Civil Monetary Penalty. The penalty is one that lets any retailer step up to the plate and indicate they can will agree to adhere to the requirements necessary in the future. It is a form of trust indicating that the issue was a one time thing and one that is not likely to happen again. In return for paying this fine, the retailer must agree to put certain conditions in place in the store.

Retailers need to agree the following:

There must a policy about all aspects of snap conveyed to the employees in writing. These policies need to be updated once the rules governing snap change in any way. The policies must be made clear to the employees. The employer must be able to answer any questions the employees might have about any issues pertaining to the use of snap benefits in writing.

All store owners who want to be able to pay the fines rather than face being permanently removed from the program need to illustrate prior compliance with this policy. Company owners can demonstrate this by showing evidence such as having dates and signatures indicating that employees were always informed about all relevant snap issues.

Store owners also need to have a specific program that shows how to respond to issues surrounding the use of EBT cards to employees before they are hired. This means there needs to be evidence that employees understood how to respond to this kind of payment even before they were allowed to deal with the cards in a real life setting. The program should include evidence that all employees understood what was required in writing after the training period was finished. A signature can be used as evidence this policy was carried out.

There is a fourth requirement for the ability to pay a fine rather than being not allowed to part of the snap program. Company owners and managers should be able to show that neither the owner or the manager of the store knew about any violations nor received any benefit as a result of the violations that took place.

A Short Deadline

All those who might wish to apply for this form of help should keep in mind that the time frame is very short. Other government programs may take months or even years to resolve. Any violation of the snap program will come in the form of a notification sent in the mail. This is known as a snap Violation Letter. This letter may be a detailed document listing exactly what violations are alleged to have happened. The letter will also detail when they happened and what each violation consists of according to the investigator. There also may be varied kinds of regulations that are divided into categories. Each one can be considered a separate violation of the law.

Those retailers who get a letter of this kind only have ten days where they can respond to the charges leveled in the document. That’s not a long time. A retailer may be caught by surprise. The suddenness of the allegations is scary. That’s why it is imperative to contact legal help as soon as the letter arrives. A skilled defense lawyer can help any company figure out what they are being accused of by the government and what might happen to them as a result of such allegations. They will carve a path for them for them to follow.