Legal Compliance Gets Harder for Multi-State Employers

Companies that do business in multiple states already know how hard it is to keep up and comply with the seemingly endless, and often contradictory, list of state and federal laws.  A recent Supreme Court decision on a hotly debated Arizona immigration law could make doing business across state lines even trickier, according to a recent Wall Street Journal Article.

Passed in 2007, the Legal Arizona Workers Act required employers in the state to use E-Verify to check employees' eligibility to work in the United States and gave the state the ability to revoke the charters or licenses of businesses that repeatedly hired employees without work permits. The law was challenged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, civil rights groups, and the Obama administration, contending that states don't have the right to make immigration laws, but the Supreme Court upheld the law in a 5-3 decision.

The decision opens the door for other states to enact similar laws, further complicating the employment landscape. West Virgina passed a law allowing the state to revoke the licenses of employers who have knowingly hired illegal workers, and other states are considering immigration legislation, as well. These laws can vary greatly in details, keeping employers who operate in multiple states on their toes.

Just determining whether or not they have to E-Verify an employee can give employers fits.  Among the states that have E-Verify mandates, some require it of all employers and others only of those with state contracts. There are even some cities and counties that have  E-Verify requirements even though their states do not. Meanwhile, federal law requires employees under federal contracts to be run through E-Verify

Some federal legislators are pushing to get E-Verify required for all employers, but many companies are choosing to do so voluntarily to ensure compliance with all applicable laws. We expect to see more of this as states and the federal government continue to push this system.

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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