U.S. employers are, of course, required to verify that the workers they hire are authorized to work here. AB 622, which takes effect January 1, 2016, will make it harder for California employers to do so.
Three federal agencies (the Citizenship and Immigration Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Social Security Administration) administer the E-Verify system as a resource for employers. However, AB 622 will prohibit employers from using E-Verify to check the status of existing employees or employees who haven’t received an offer, unless doing so is required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds. Employers can still use it to check the status of workers who’ve received a conditional offer of employment (i.e., an offer conditioned on the employee presenting proof of his or her right to work in the U.S.).
In addition, if an employer using the E-Verify system receives notice from Homeland Security or the Social Security Administration that the information from the employee doesn’t match what’s in the federal database, the employer must notify the employee of that fact as soon as practicable. The penalty for each violation of the new statute, which will be Labor Code § 2814, is a hefty $10,000.
Takeaways: Employers still need to verify the status of workers they hire and E-Verify provides a convenient mechanism to do so. But unless required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds, employers can only check the status of applicants who’ve received an offer but have yet to start work. In addition, the employer needs to notify the worker promptly if the E-Verify system doesn’t confirm that an individual is authorized to work in the U.S.
Just what we needed: another legal hurdle for California employers to clear with excessive penalties for noncompliance.