The growing patchwork of E-Verify laws continues, with Utah and Virginia becoming the first states to pass bills mandating E-Verify participation in 2010. As with previous laws enacted in 2008-2009, these bills require certain employers to use E-Verify to check the work eligibility of new hires. Below is a brief synopsis of the new laws and requirements.
Utah’s E-Verify law, the Private Employer Verification Act, requires all private employers who employ more than 15 or more employees as of July 1, 2010, to use a “status verification system” to verify the employment eligibility of new employees. The status verification system is broadly defined to include E-Verify, the SSNVS, or another DHS-approved system. Interestingly, the law exempts new hires on the H-2A or H-2B seasonal visas. By observing the law, employers will be shielded from civil liability for the unlawful hiring of an undocumented worker as long as the E-Verify systems indicated he or she was work authorized. Similarly, an employer may not be held civilly liable for the refusal to hire an individual if E-Verify indicated that he or she was not work authorized.
Unlike the federal E-Verify program, employers can also choose to voluntarily register with the state to certify compliance and pay a fee. In a familiar move, Utah also intends to electronically post the list of registered employers on its public website.
Virginia’s E-Verify law requires only state agencies to enroll in the E-Verify Program by December 1, 2012 and thereafter begin using the system for all new hires. As originally passed by the House, the bill would have also included public contractors, localities, and employers with 15 or more employees. That version was ultimately pared down to its current form. The Senate also changed the effective date from December 1, 2010 to December 1, 2012. The complete bill history is available online.