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Tennessee employers required to collect documents or use E-Verify database

By Michael Klazema on 1/30/2012

Tennessee employers are required to demonstrate that they are hiring and maintaining a legal workforce under new requirements that became effective January 1, according to Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis.

“This online verification process is designed to be convenient for employers and only takes a few minutes to complete. The department can provide assistance to employers who don’t have Internet access,” said Commissioner Davis.

Signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on June 7, 2011, the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act (H.B. 1378) requires employers to verify the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees through the online E-Verify program (www.uscis.gov/everify), or requesting all newly hired employees to provide one of the following identity and employment authorization documents as required:

  • A valid Tennessee driver's license or photo identification
  • A valid driver's license or photo identification from another state where the license requirements are at least as strict as those in Tennessee
  • A birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, jurisdiction or territory
  • A U.S. government issued certified birth certificate
  • A valid, unexpired U.S. passport
  • A U.S. certificate of birth abroad
  • A report of birth abroad or a citizen of the U.S.
  • A certificate of citizenship
  • A certificate of naturalization
  • A U.S. citizen identification card
  • A lawful permanent resident card

The law also requires employers to obtain and maintain a copy of one of the above-listed identity/employment authorization documents for all non-employees as well. A “non-employee” is defined as any individual, other than an employee, paid directly by the employer in exchange for the individual’s labor or services.

The employment verification provisions referenced above will be phased in as follows:

  • All state and local government agencies must enroll and participate in E-Verify or request and maintain an identity/employment authorization document from a newly hired employee or non-employee no later than January 1, 2012
  • All private employers with 500 or more employees must enroll and participate in E-Verify or request and maintain an identity/employment authorization document from a newly hired employee or non-employee no later than January 1, 2012
  • All private employers with 200 to 499 employees must enroll and participate in E-Verify or request and maintain an identity/employment authorization document from a newly hired employee or non-employee no later than July 1, 2012
  • All private employers with six to 199 employees must register and utilize E-Verify or request and maintain an identity/employment authorization document from a newly hired employee or non-employee no later than July 1, 2013

The Tennessee Department of Labor has authority to impose penalties for non-compliance. For a first violation, $500 for each employee or non-employee not verified; for a second violation, $1,000 for each employee or non-employee not verified; and $2,500 for a third violation.

The private employer must submit evidence of compliance within 60 days of the final order. If the employer fails to submit such documentation, then the commissioner has the authority to suspend the private employer's license until the employer remedies the violation.

Any lawful resident of Tennessee or any employee of a federal agency may file a complaint alleging a violation of the employment verification provisions of the Act. If there is satisfactory evidence of a violation, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development will conduct an investigation.


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