E-Verify Laws in TN, PA, NC


Emptech's founder, Jeff Aleixo


Jeff Aleixo


On January 1st, 2013, new E-Verify laws will be phased in for employers in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

In North Carolina, employers with 100 or more employees must be registered for and using E-Verify as of January 1st, 2013.

Pennsylvania’s new legislation, the Public Works Employment Verification Act, takes effect January 1, 2013, but only applies to public works contractors and sub-contractors where the project is valued at $25,000 or greater.

Details about Tennessee’s E-Verify Requirement

Tennessee’s Lawful Employment Act (TLEA) has already been introduced for most Tennessee employers, but it will become effective for the final group of employers with six to 199 employees on January 1, 2013. The employee count must include employees in any state, so long as the employer is located in Tennessee.

Things to Know about Tennessee’s E-Verify Law

  • Required of all taxpayers with more than 5 employees, it has a wider reach than other states’ E-Verify legislation. Employers with 5 or less employees are exempt.
  • Thanks to a last minute change prior to passage, the law actually requires employers to either use E-Verify or maintain copies of the same identification documents they are already required to view for the Form I-9. While employers have a choice whether to use E-Verify or not under TLEA, they cannot switch back and forth between methods, because the E-Verify program requires its users to employ it exclusively for all new hires.
  • Employers must verify employment eligibility of contractors as well as employees.
  • Employers can hire third party agents to conduct E-Verify checks.
  • Employers without internet access can enter into agreement with the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development (TDLWD) and permit the TDLWD to enroll them in E-Verify and conduct employment verification checks of new hires on their behalf.
Find out more about E-Verify laws, its benefits, and how to avoid potential I-9 violations in the detailed guide about I-9 employment eligibility verification.

Documents Accepted for Employment Eligibility Verification

  • A valid Tennessee driver’s license or photo ID;
  • A valid driver’s license or photo ID from another state where the license requirements are at least as strict as those in Tennessee (not New Mexico or Utah);
  • A birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, jurisdiction or territory;
  • A U.S. government-issued certified birth certificate;
  • A valid, unexpired passport;
  • A U.S. certificate of birth abroad (DS-1350 or FS-545);
  • A report of birth abroad of a U.S. citizen (FS-240);
  • A certificate of citizenship (N560 or N561);
  • A certificate of naturalization (N550, N570 or N578);
  • A U.S. citizen identification card (I-197 or I-179);
  • Valid alien registration documentation or other proof of current immigration registration recognized by the United States Department of Homeland Security that contains the individual’s complete legal name and current alien admission number or alien file number or numbers, if the individual has more than one number.

Penalties for TLEA Violations

  • First offense= $500 penalty and $500 per employee or contractor not verified via E-Verify or documented with copy retained.
  • Second offense= $1,000 penalty and $1,000 per employee or contractor not verified via E-Verify or documented with copy retained.
  • Third offense= $2,500 penalty and $2,500 per employee or contractor not verified via E-Verify or documented with copy retained.
Learn how to avoid penalties and remain compliant with E-Verify laws by following specific steps in the process of successfully determining legal employment eligibility of workers.

Additionally, after being found guilty of violating TLEA, Tennessee’s new E-Verify law, if the employer does not submit documentation of compliance, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) will request an order requiring the appropriate local government entity to suspend the employer’s license pending remediation. In the event of subsequent violations, the business license is subject to suspension for at least one year. Likewise, other states have authority to impose penalties such as suspension or revocation of business licenses in case of unauthorized employment.

Why Tennessee Employers Should Use the E-Verify Option

As of 2012, about 4,000 TN businesses have enrolled in E-Verify and TLEA is considered more moderate legislation than E-Verify legislation in neighboring states of Alabama and Mississippi.

A major incentive for employers to enroll in this program is the safe harbor provision it affords them. If an employer uses E-Verify and receives a confirmation or if the employee is appealing a tentative non-confirmation and it has not been resolved, the employer will not be found to have violated the law. Employers who utilize the copy retention method are not similarly protected.

Tennessee E-Verify Update

Tennessee approved a law making E-Verify mandatory for all employers with 50 or more employees, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Its key provisions are:

  • Employers with 50 or more employees must use E-Verify to verify the work authorization of employees hired on or after January 1.
  • Penalties for violations start at $500 plus $500 per employee for a first offense and increase for second and third offenses.
  • Employers found in violation have 45 days to remedy a non-compliance order.

Under the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act, employers could choose between enrolling in E-Verify and following specified document retention requirements. However, the amendments to the Act eliminate this choice and mandate E-Verify, exempting only employers with fewer than 50 employees.

There are numerous reasons why Tennessee employers and employers in other states should start using E-Verify. The federal government generally encourages employers to make use of this program as the best means available for employers to verify electronically the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. In addition to this, the current administration is committed to making mandatory E-Verify part of immigration reform. Therefore, employers need to enroll in E-Verify as early as possible and review their documentation and policies to make sure they are fully compliant.

Find out how electronic solution can help your company keep I-9 management under control, remain compliant with E-Verify laws, and save internal resources.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Disclaimer: This article is general in nature and is not intended to replace the guidance of an employment tax expert and/or legal professional with regards to an appropriate course of action in your particular circumstances. Please consult with a professional for appropriate advice in your case. Pursuant to IRS “Circular 230” rules, any information included herewithin is not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the federal Internal Revenue Code.