By: David G. Greineder, IOM, ABC Keystone Director of Government Affairs
A new Pennsylvania law will require all construction industry employers to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm workers are legally permitted to work in the United States. The law, Act 75 of 2019, takes effect on October 7, 2020.
E-Verify is a free online service administered by the federal government that verifies employment eligibility. It is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Employers upload information provided on the I-9 Form to create a case and instantly confirm eligibility. If a mismatch is detected, next step instructions are provided. Employers are required to keep records for the duration of employment or three years, which ever is longer.
Most states have some form of E-Verify requirement. Act 75 is intended to prohibit construction employers from “knowingly” employing an unauthorized person. Since the bill will not take effect for one year, ABC will use that time to fully educate and train members on the requirements and consequences for non-compliance. In the meantime, please take time to review the major enforcement provisions listed below.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is responsible for enforcing the law. If a complaint is filed, the Department is empowered to investigate employee work authorizations. The Department has the authority to:
- Enter a place of business.
- Examine, inspect, or copy records.
- Take statements in writing.
- Question employees.
If an employer is found to be in violation:
- The Department issues a warning letter detailing the violation and includes information on the law.
- The employer has the right to appeal the warning letter.
- The Department may not issue a warning letter if the employer demonstrates employment was verified through E-Verify.
- After the issuance of a warning letter, the employer has ten days to verify in writing that the unauthorized employee was terminated.
- Failure to verify termination constitutes a second violation.
- For second and subsequent violations, cases are referred to the Attorney General for court proceedings. Violations at this stage can result in probation, license suspension, and fees.
The law includes protections for employers and employees:
- Employers who use E-Verify in good faith are not held liable to an individual who is not hired or is terminated if incorrect information is provided.
- General Contractors are not liable for violations of a subcontractor.
- Subcontractors are not liable for violations of other subcontractors.
- Employers cannot retaliate against an employee for participating in the investigation process or for filing a complaint.
- Employees who believe they have suffered retaliation may bring action in court
Be informed! ABC will provide future trainings on the E-Verify law so your business can prepare and stay ahead of the curve. If you are not signed-up to receive email alerts, you can do so at: https://abckeystone.org/government-affairs-politics/voter-voice/. You can also download the “ABC Action App” from the app store on your mobile device, or at abc.org/abcaction.
November 5, 2019