Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Brave New World of Hiring in Tennessee

Since 1986, employers have been the primary enforcement tool of immigration. With the creation of the I-9 Form, it has been the responsibility of employers to find out if a person seeking employment is authorized to be and work in the United States.

The pressure on employers to enforce these immigration laws during the hiring process is getting ready to explode for employers in Tennessee. On June 7, 2011, Tennessee Governor Haslam signed into law new provisions of the 'Tennessee Lawful Employment Act' that will dramatically change the way employers hire new employees - and even independent contractors who provide labor and services for your company.

A new complex layer of state immigration enforcement obligations will supplement (and sometimes overlap) the federal regulations that employers already follow. The new legislation is built around the use of the federal 'E-Verify' system or maintenance of documentation proving legal residency for every employee similar to what is now required with the Form I-9.

Over the next several days, we will focus on 5 different components of the new legislation to help explain the scope of the new law. In summary, the 5 topics will include:

1. E-Verify and Legal Residency documentation; Employer will either have to register and use E-Verify or maintain specific documentation proving lawful residency - even if you do not have internet access;

2. Independent Contractors; new verification requirements now extend to persons who provide labor or services to your company - even if they are not your own employees;

3. Worksite Investigations; a new state office will be created to conduct random audits and inspections at your workplace;

4. Increased Penalties; higher fines and the possible permanent suspension of your license are now among the heightened penalties for violation of these new provisions;

5. Implementation Dates; Employer obligations to comply with this new legislation will be phased in depending upon the size of your workforce. Generally, the law becomes effective on January 1, 2012.

Welcome to the New World of Immigration Enforcement!

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