Several pieces of E-Verify legislation are working their way through the Pennsylvania Legislature in Harrisburg. On May 24, 2011, the Pennsylvania Senate passed S.B. 637 (42–7). This bill requires public-works contractors and subcontractors to verify the work authorization of existing employees through the Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS) and to begin using E-Verify for all new hires 60 days after the bill's enactment. Sanctions for violation of the act include debarment from state contracting for a minimum of 90 days. The Pennsylvania House version, H.B. 379, is awaiting action by the House State Government Committee.
Similarly, H.B. 380—the Construction Industry Employment Verification Act—requires all employers involved in construction trades to verify the work authorization of existing employees through the SSNVS and to begin using E-Verify for all new hires by July 1, 2011. Employers will be required to file annual reports verifying compliance. Failure to comply may result in forfeiture of business licenses and revocation of articles of incorporation.
H.B. 858, known as the Fair Employment Act, would require each entity filing an initial or renewal business registration to provide an affidavit confirming that it has no undocumented workers on staff and that it has enrolled in and is actively using E-Verify. A first-time failure to comply with this requirement would result in suspension of the entity's business license until the affidavit is submitted. The sanction for a second or subsequent failure to comply is a minimum 20-day suspension of the business registration and reporting of the failure to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In addition to legal sanctions, these bills provide for random audits and complaint-based investigations by state agencies. They also contain employment protections for whistleblowers and anti-immigration-related discrimination provisions to protect legal workers—all of which may lead to additional administrative and litigation concerns for employers.
Pennsylvania would have one of the most comprehensive E-Verify legislative programs in the United States if these bills were passed in combination with two other proposals: H.B. 379 and H.B. 355. H.B. 379 would make it unlawful for any Pennsylvania organization or individual, including attorneys, to "knowingly employ or permit the employment" of an undocumented worker; and H.B. 355 would mandate E-Verify for all state agencies and funding recipients. While many states have passed prospective E-Verify requirements, none have so far mandated the SSNVS requirement for existing workers, and none have singled out the construction industry.