Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More states mandating E-verify for employment screening

While this week's Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration enforcement legislation may have tied the hands of the state to enforce immigration laws, this ruling did not touch the state's E-verify mandate, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court in last year's ruling in the matter of Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting. This and other signs point to a growing willingness to mandate E-verify and allow states to implement laws restricting the ability of employers to employ those who don't establish their legal right to work in the United States.

Following Chamber ruling, nine other states joined Arizona in requiring businesses in those states to use E-verify to screen new hires - Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. While the dates for the implementation of the laws vary from state-to-state, all ten states require employers to be using this system by the end of this year. But a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates the E-verify mandates are just the tip of the iceberg on issues related to employment and immigration. 

Nearly 500 pieces of legislation related to immigration and employment have been filed in forty-four states, as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico, in 2011 and 2012. Last year, immigration bills related to employment and law enforcement issues were the overwhelming majority of legislation introduced regarding immigration and employment-related bills remained one of the larger areas of such legislation this year.

While the volume of legislation dropped this year, at least some of this drop-off may be due to the fact that many state legislatures hold shorter - or no - sessions in even-numbered years, thus allowing for less legislation to be filed.

As these efforts are ongoing and the laws will vary from state-to-state, employers and their HR staff would be wise to keep on top of these issues as well as the laws passed wherever they may be doing business. With many of these laws including punitive measures such as hefty penalties, business license  sanctions and even jail, those who choose not to stay on top of these issues do so at their own risk.


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