Tennessee Employers: Did You Know?

Last June, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed into law the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act which requires all employers in Tennessee to demonstrate that they are hiring and maintaining a legal workforce.

Employers have two options to satisfy the requirements of the new law:

1. Enroll and verify the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees through the E-Verify program operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or,

2. Request all newly hired employees to provide one of a number of identity or employment authorization documents including a Tennessee deiver’s license, birth certificate, unexpired passport, certificate of citizenship, certificate of naturalization and lawful permanent resident card, among others.

The provisiions of the new law will be phased in. Employers must enroll and participate in E-Verify or request and maintain an identity/employment authorization document from a newly hired employee based on the following schedule:

  • For all government agencies and employers with 500 or more employees the requirements took effect January 1, 2012
  • For employers with 200 to 499 employees the requirements take effect July 1, 2012
  • For employers with 6 to 199 employees the requirements take effect July 1, 2013
  • The new law does not apply to employers with less than 6 employees, however they still must continue to maintain federal I-9 forms verifying each worker’s employment authorization and identity.

The requirements of the new law also pertain non-employees who provide labor or services (independent contractors) to the employer.

Documentation obtained must be retained for three years from date of hire or one year from the date of termination, whichever is later.

Fines for violating the new requirements can be stiff–First time violations carry a $500 fine for each unverified employee or nonm-employee. The fine is raised to $1,000 for a second violation and to $2,500 for a third or subsequent violation.

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