E-VERIFY: Are you in compliance?

Earlier this decade, the North Carolina General Assembly adopted the federal E-Verify program operated by the Department of Homeland Security as the primary clearinghouse for confirming workers in the State of North Carolina are in this country legally.  The program is designed for use “after hire” and was created as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.  Once a new employee completes an I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form), the employer can go to the E-Verify website, enter the requisite information and obtain confirmation that the employee is legally in the country and eligible for employment.

To determine whether this process should be used by your company, you need to know the number of people your company employs.  The North Carolina General Assembly phased in E-Verify requirements over an 18-month period starting with the largest employers and working down.  However, effective July 1, 2013, all employers with 25 or more employees are required to use E-Verify to check work authorization for all new hires. Sanctions begin with what amounts to a warning and opportunity to cure and proceeds through monetary fines which can add up.  The North Carolina Department of Labor oversees compliance.

In the construction industry, you may, and probably should, be running into owners and/or general contractors requiring you to execute a document or affidavit stating that your company E-Verifies employees.  For federal projects, you should expect to be required to complete a form indicating that your company E-Verifies employees.  For state projects, suppliers of equipment and materials are exempt from N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-133.3 which requires E-Verification by contractors and subcontractors for state and local projects.  Note, however, that exemption does not exempt you from the overarching requirement if your company has more than 25 employees.

The take-away from this article is to make certain if your company has more than 25 employees, you are undertaking the requisite E-Verify research at the time you hire new employees.  While it does not appear that the Department of Labor is hunting for violators, events could conspire to put your business in their cross-hairs.  An ounce of prevention…

By: Nan E. Hannah