Employers in some states may face additional penalties for non-compliant employment eligibility verification programs, including increased fines and the loss of public contracts. Among the most recent laws to pass are Act 376 and Act 402 in Louisiana, which require employers to verify that employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.
Act 376, which goes into effect January 1, 2012, requires that any private employer that bids for a public contract and all subcontractors must use E-Verify to confirm that all employees in the state of Louisiana are legal citizens of the U.S. or are legal aliens. Subcontractors must also attest to their use of E-Verify via a sworn affidavit that is to be submitted to the employer. If an employer violates the law, any public contracts will be cancelled and the employer will be ineligible for bidding on any contracts for up to three years.
E-Verify Law Provides New Protections
In addition to the legal requirements the new law places on employers, it also includes new protections. If the employer complies with the verification provisions and makes hiring decisions based on the information obtained from E-Verify, the employer will be protected from civil and criminal liabilities under state law. Under these new protections, if an employee is later found to be an unauthorized alien or if an individual was refused employment due to appearing to be ineligible to work and is later shown to be an authorized worker, the organization would not be subject to penalties.
Act 402, which recently went into effect, has even broader implications for employers. It requires verification of citizenship and authorization for employment, but includes provisions that employers shall not be subject to sanctions if the E-Verify system was used to verify the citizenship or work authorization status of every employee or if the employee provided picture identification and a birth certificate or certified birth card, a naturalization certificate, a certificate of citizenship, an alien registration card or U.S. immigration form I-94 with employment authorized stamp.
An employer must retain copies of the required documents provided by employees. An employer who uses E-Verify is presumed under the law to be in “good faith” and is not subject to penalties for relying on the accuracy of the information the system provided.
The new law also increases penalties to $500 for a first violation, $1,000 for a second violation and $2,500 for a third violation. The penalty provisions are applicable to each individual employed in violation of the law, which can multiply quickly if an organization’s processes are not in compliance thus impacting numerous employees.
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Effectively Managing I-9 Employment Eligibility in the Face of Changing Legislation