On Dec 17, 2022 Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced that the office sent letters to six companies to inform them that they are required to provide documentation to prove their compliance with Florida’s E-Verify® laws.
"Companies that have not affirmed that all employees have passed E-Verify and are authorized to work in the United States are given an opportunity to cure the issue and so affirm.", stated Bryan Griffin, the press secretary for Governor Ron DeSantis.
The letters to the companies instructed them to confirm an affidavit that they had fired any "unauthorized aliens" they had employed, that each company would not "intentionally or knowingly employ an unauthorized alien," and that the company would comply with section 448.095(3)(b), Florida Statutes and the state's E-Verify laws.
Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) informed the companies that they have one final chance to send documentation to the state to prove their compliance with Florida’s E-Verify requirements.
E-Verify is an online system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, to records available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to confirm employment eligibility.
What is included in Florida's E-Verify Laws?
If a private employer does not verify employment eligibility of its new employees, Florida’s DEO will require the employer to provide an affidavit stating that it will comply, that it has terminated the employment of all unauthorized workers in the state, and that the employer will not intentionally or knowingly employ an unauthorized worker in the state. If this information is not provided, the appropriate licensing agency will suspend all applicable licenses held by the private employer until it provides the DEO with the affidavit. An employer found to have violated this provision three times within any 36-month period will face permanent revocation of all licenses it holds specific to the business location where the unauthorized worker performed work (or alternatively, all of the licenses necessary to operate the employer’s business generally).
The announcement of the letters may be a sign of more aggressive tactics to deter illegal employment in the state of Florida, but may also create larger burdens for the state’s employers.
The difference between Form I-9 and E-Verify
Form I-9 compliance is a U.S. requirement for all American employers. The form is used to verify employment eligibility and verify identification of workers to ensure they are legally authorized to work in the United States.
The Form I-9 is key to the E-Verify system, which is mandated by certain states, localities, and is voluntary for most employers.
The web-based E-Verify system compares information the employer enters from Form I-9 to records available to the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This verification then helps to confirm an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States.
Even though E-Verify uses information from Form I-9, there are some important differences between Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements, such as:
Considerations and take-aways
The complex rules and regulations regarding the Form I-9 can often be burdensome for employers to manage, due continual legal changes and the complex nature of the Form itself. Employers need to make sure they follow all national, state, and local laws regarding employment eligibility and verification, however, they also need to be mindful of possible discrimination during the Form I-9 and E-Verify process. Learn more about how this topic can land companies in hot water in our recent blog article.
The trend of increasing enforcement regarding Form I-9 and E-Verify may continue to be a hot topic in southern states facing immigration related issues, however these laws also apply every U.S. employer. American companies must be prepared to tackle current legal requirements or they could likely risk facing harsh penalties.
An I-9 management solution like Clear I-9 can help employers overcome many of these obstacles by making the Form I-9 and E-Verify process easier and helping to ensure compliance. Taking the guesswork out of completing the I-9 and automatically submitting I-9s to E-Verify as an option, can help HR and staffing professionals stay on top of all I-9 and E-Verify legal requirements for every worksite location.
Stay tuned to Clear I-9 for more E-Verify and Form I-9 information!