This year, Governor Brown signed AB 622, expanding the definition of “unlawful business practices” for employers using E-Verify. The federal E-Verify system is administered by three different federal agencies, enables participating employers to use the system, on a voluntary basis, to verify that the employees are authorized to work in the United States.
Existing law prohibits state entities from requiring an employer—other than those government entities—to use an electronic employment verification system, including E-Verify, except when required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds. Employers cannot use E-Verify to retaliate against employees. For example, if you have an employee that makes an complaint about a violation of the law, and you want to terminate that employee, you cannot use E-Verify to determine the employee’s immigration status and use that as a basis for termination.
AB 622 adds Labor Code 2814 expanding the definition of an unlawful employment practice. The new law prohibits an employer or any other person or entity from using the E-Verify to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee or an applicant who has not received an offer of employment. There are exceptions when federal law requires E-Verify.
The new law is intended to prevent discrimination in employment rather than to sanction hiring persons who are not authorized to work in the United States.
Employers Must Provide Written Offers Before Using E-Verify
Does this mean employers cannot use E-Verify? No. It just means, unless specifically required by federal law, employers must provide written offers before using E-Verify.
If an employer using E-Verify receives a “nonconfirmation notice”—i.e., E-Verify cannot confirm the employee is authorized to work in the United States or the employee is potentially using someone else’s social security number—the employer must provide the employee any notifications issued by the Social Security Administration or the United States Department of Homeland Security regarding the nonconfirmation notice.
Employers violating Labor Code 2814 could face civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.
Employers should never retaliate against an individual for engaging in protected activity. Newly enacted Labor Code 2814 adds additional penalties against employers misusing the E-Verify or similar systems. Employers must provide written offers before using E-Verify. The offer letters should state the offer is contingent upon the employee passing required background checks and proof the employee is authorized to work in the United States.
Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.
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