Thanks to an amendment to a Tennessee law some Tennessee employers will soon be required to use E-Verify. Effective January 1, 2017 private employers with fifty (50) or more employees must use E-Verify to verify the work authorization status of all employees hired on or after that date. This is a change to the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act, which currently allows all employers to choose between using E-Verify or collecting one of eleven specified identification documents in order to comply with the law.
Penalties for noncompliance with the TLEA include a $500 penalty plus $500 per employee or non-employee not verified, or a copy of appropriate verifying documentation not maintained, for the employer’s first offense. Those amounts increase to $1000 for a second offense and $2500 for a third offense.
The TLEA allows first time violators to receive a warning in lieu of a penalty if the employer remedies the violation within 45 days of receipt of the notice and initial order from the Tennessee Department of Labor. Employers previously had 60 days to achieve compliance, but the amendment shortened the time to 45 days. Also, if the employer fails to remedy the violations within 45 days the initial order shall be deemed a final order not subject to further review.
All Tennessee employers should review their verification documentation now by conducting an “I9 Audit” to make sure they are in compliance with the TLEA and applicable federal law. Tennessee employers with 50 or more employees can enroll in E-verify now, or wait until January 1, 2017 to do so, but make sure you enroll. The failure to do so can be costly!