E-WHAT? FLORIDA LAW IMPOSES PENALTIES ON BUSINESSES FOR UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS
It was one of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign promises when he was running for office in 2018. In 2019, the Florida legislature passed into state law a requirement for local governments and some private employers to use E-Verify starting on July 1, 2020. E-Verify is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Internet-based system that allows agencies and businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees, U.S. or foreign citizens, to work in the United States. An estimated 76,500 businesses in Florida of 2.5 million are using the system.
The newest Florida law was an amendment to an existing law that only applied to state “executive agencies” and their subcontractors to use E-verify.
Private businesses that do not use E-Verify must retain copies of the identity and employment authorization documents presented for the I-9 form — for U.S. citizens and non-citizens — for three years.
According to lawlogix.com, the penalties for violating this law are harsh. If a private employer “does not follow the rules with regards to employment verification, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) shall require them to provide an affidavit stating that a, they will comply with the verification requirements; b, they have terminated the employment of all unauthorized workers in the state; and, c, they will not intentionally or knowingly employ an unauthorized worker in the state.”
If the employer doesn’t respond with the affidavit within 30 days, the state will suspend all applicable licenses held by the private employer until they submit the affidavit. Any employer that violates the above three times in any 36-month period faces the permanent loss of business licenses.
At the time the law passed, DeSantis said the purpose was twofold: “… it’s about fairness for lawful immigrants and native-born workers, and it’s about public safety.”
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