Employers now need to ensure that they are in compliance with state and local immigration laws, in addition to federal immigration laws. A number of states have implemented provisions regarding employers’ obligations, many of which went into effect on January 1, 2008. Below please find a synopsis of some of the most relevant provisions:
Arizona—Effective January 1, 2008, the Legal Arizona Workers Act prohibits employers from intentionally or knowingly employing unauthorized workers. First-time violators who knowingly employ unauthorized workers will be subject to a three-year probationary period and may have their business licenses suspended for up to ten days. First-time violators who intentionally employ unauthorized workers will be subject to a fi ve-year probationary period and will have their business licenses suspended for a minimum of ten days. Subsequent violations during the probationary period will lead to a permanent revocation of an employer’s Arizona business license. All employers in Arizona must verify the work authorization of all new hires by utilizing the E-Verify Program. The State Attorney General or Arizona County Attorney must conduct an investigation of possible violations of the Act upon receipt of a complaint.
Arkansas—Effective August 1, 2007, Arkansas prohibits state agencies from entering into contracts with businesses that knowingly employ or contract with “illegal immigrants.” Prospective contractors and subcontractors employed by the state under contracts valued at $25,000 or more are required to certify that they do not, at the time of certifi cation, employ or contract with undocumented workers. Violators may be liable to the state for any actual damages incurred.
Colorado—Effective January 1, 2007, all employers, regardless of size or trade, must maintain copies of documentation in support of Form I-9. In addition to completing a Form I-9, Colorado employers must complete an affi rmation of legal work status within twenty days of a new hire that confi rms the employer has met the following four requirements: (1) it has examined the legal work status of each new employee hired after January 1, 2007; (2) it has retained copies of required I-9 documents for examination; (3) it has not altered or falsified the documents presented by the employee; and (4) it has not knowingly hired an unauthorized worker. The employer must keep an electronic or written copy of the affirmation with supporting documents. Additionally, since August 7, 2006, state contractors have been required to verify the legal status of all new hires using the DHS’s E-Verify Program. Lastly, employers seeking to qualify for a grant, loan, or performance-based incentive from the Colorado Economic Development Commission must verify the work authorization and prove the legal status of all employees. Violators may be required to repay the award and are ineligible for an economic development incentive for five years from the date of repayment.
Illinois—*Effective January 1, 2008, the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act would prohibit the specified use of the E-Verify Program until the program meets specified quality control benchmarks. Pursuant to the Act, once the E-Verify Program is able to meet the specifi ed benchmark, employers would be able to participate in the program but would be required to meet several additional requirements to comply with new workplace privacy provisions of Illinois employment law. The Act indicates that employers using the E-Verify Program before the quality control benchmark is reached or later using the program without meeting the workplace privacy requirements will be subject to penalties. Under the Act, job applicants, employees, and the Illinois Department of Labor may fi le a lawsuit to compel compliance with the Act. If an employer continues to be noncompliant, it may be sued for actual or statutory damages. *Note: This Illinois law is the subject of federal litigation and has been stayed until February 15, 2008.
Oklahoma—Effective November 1, 2007, Oklahoma requires all public employers and their contractors and subcontractors to use a “status verifi cation system” to verify the immigration status of employees. The state recognizes the E-Verify Program and the Social Security Number Verifi cation Service as acceptable forms of status verifi cation systems. The requirement to use a status verifi cation system becomes effective July 1, 2008 and applies to contracts entered into for the physical performance of services after November 1, 2007, and only to new employees hired after that date.