The Utah and Virginia legislatures recently passed laws requiring the verification of new hires’ employment authorization by employers in those states. The Utah legislature passed the Private Employer Verification Act, although the Act currently awaits signature by the Governor before officially becoming law. This law requires private employers with 15 or more employees to verify the employment authorization of all new hires on and after July 1, 2010 through a “status verification system.” The law defines “status verification system” broadly to include E-Verify, the Social Security Number Verification System, or another similar program run by the federal government. Notably, the law exempts H-2A and H-2B workers from the verification requirement. Public employers also are exempt.
The Utah law also includes a “safe harbor” rule. If an employer unlawfully hires an alien without work authorization, the employer cannot be held civilly liable if the employer was registered with and used the status verification system, and the information received from the system indicated the employee had authorization to work in the U.S. Likewise, an employer cannot be held civilly liable if the employer refuses to hire the alien because the information from the status verification system indicated the alien was not authorized for employment by the federal government. As of March 19, 2010, the law was awaiting the governor’s signature.
Virginia also passed a law requiring the use of E-Verify. Unlike the Utah law, however, Virginia’s law only requires public employers to use E-Verify for new hires on or after December 1, 2012. Private employers in Virginia have no obligation to use E-Verify.
E-Verify is an internet-based Employment Eligibility Verification System run by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of certain employees. To use E-Verify, an employer enters employee information from the Form I-9 into the web-based system. E-Verify then runs that information against records in the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases to confirm whether the employee is authorized to work in the United States. For more information, contact your Klasko Law attorney.