Employment Verification Required For More Florida Employers
In May 2023, SB 1718 was signed into law, aimed at better regulating the employee on-boarding process. The law requires Florida employers – with certain exceptions – to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure that employees have the right to work in the United States, and that all their papers are in order. While undocumented immigration is a persistent issue, particularly in Florida, detractors of the bill articulated a persistent concern that overzealous enforcement could adversely affect businesses in the state.
Cracking Down On The Undocumented
E-Verify is a federal initiative intended to crack down on undocumented immigrants seeking work, and the employers that hire them under the proverbial table. Created by executive order in 1991, later reformed and relaunched in 2007, the system does not seek to assess whether someone has the right to be present in the country, but it does try to weed out those who are ineligible to work in the U.S. – some of whom are lawfully admitted immigrants, depending on their visa status.
Starting July 1, 2023, Florida employers with 25 or more employees must use E-Verify to vet their employees. The state already mandates that public employers (and private employers that contract with public entities) must use the system, but this law has expanded the pool of businesses that are required to do so, ostensibly due to an influx of undocumented employees. In addition, employers that do not comply by July 1, 2024 are required to pay penalties to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).
Immigrant Workers Do Have Protections
In addition to the employment regulations, SB 1718 also implements several other rules designed to bar undocumented immigrants from effectively being able to reside in the state – for example, it holds that driver’s licenses and state IDs issued to non-citizens in other states will no longer be considered valid in Florida. That said, such strict regulations can sometimes place an employer between the proverbial rock and a hard place, depending on when they discover that an employee is undocumented.
Both federal and Florida law hold that it is unlawful to “knowingly hire, hire, recruit, or refer” an undocumented person for work in the United States. However, antidiscrimination laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to citizens and non-citizens alike, meaning that once an undocumented person has a job, they cannot be terminated solely on the basis of their national origin or ethnicity. The Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) also protects immigrant rights.
Contact A Seminole, FL Business Law Attorney
If you are an employer who now must use E-Verify as a result of SB 1718, it may feel difficult to balance your business’ interests against your employees’. A Florida business law attorney from the Hunt Law Group can help answer your questions. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.