What Florida Business Owners Need to Know about the New E-Verify System

What Florida Business Owners Need to Know about the New E-Verify System

In the dynamic landscape of Florida business law, staying updated on regulations and compliance requirements is vital. Implementing the E-Verify system is a significant development that demands the attention of Florida business owners.

E-Verify is a federal program that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their workers. You can contact our Florida business law attorneys at Fetterman Law to learn more about the system and how it applies to your business.

What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is an online system administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). It enables employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States by comparing information from the employee’s Form I-9 to DHS and SSA records.

E-Verify and Florida Business Law

Florida, like many states, has specific laws related to employment and immigration that businesses must adhere to. Understanding how E-Verify fits into the Florida business law landscape is crucial. While E-Verify is not mandatory for all Florida businesses, there are essential considerations to remember.

Mandatory E-Verify in Florida

As of September 2019, Florida law mandates using E-Verify for all government employers and certain contractors. This includes private employers who contract with state agencies for goods or services and subcontractors working on state contracts.

Benefits of E-Verify in Florida

Using E-Verify can provide various benefits to Florida businesses, including:

  • Compliance with State Law: Utilizing E-Verify ensures compliance with Florida’s mandatory requirements for certain employers, helping businesses avoid penalties and legal complications.
  • Reduced Risk: By verifying your employees’ eligibility, you reduce the risk of hiring individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States, which can lead to severe penalties.
  • Reputation Management: Hiring legally authorized workers can enhance your business’s reputation and goodwill in the community.
  • Streamlined Processes: E-Verify can help streamline the hiring process by quickly confirming an employee’s eligibility, allowing businesses to onboard employees more efficiently.

Potential Challenges and Legal Risks

While E-Verify offers significant advantages, it’s not without potential challenges and legal risks for Florida businesses:

  • Data Privacy: Handling sensitive employee information in the E-Verify system necessitates stringent data privacy measures to comply with Florida’s data protection laws.
  • Accuracy Concerns: E-Verify may occasionally generate false positives or negatives, requiring careful handling to avoid discrimination or wrongful termination claims.
  • Training and Compliance: Businesses must ensure that staff members responsible for using E-Verify are adequately trained to avoid mistakes that could lead to legal consequences.

How to Implement E-Verify

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or just starting, understanding the intricacies of E-Verify is crucial to navigating the complex terrain of hiring and employment in the Sunshine State.

Registration Process

Florida business owners subject to mandatory E-Verify requirements must complete the registration process, which involves:

  • Creating an Account: Businesses must create an E-Verify account on the official website.
  • Verification of Identity: The business owner’s identity will be verified using personal information and documentation.
  • Account Activation: After successful verification, the account will be activated, allowing the business to use the E-Verify system.

Verifying New Hires

Once registered, Florida businesses can use E-Verify to verify the employment eligibility of new hires. The process involves:

  • Completing Form I-9: Before using E-Verify, employers must complete Form I-9 for each new hire, collecting the necessary documents to establish their identity and eligibility.
  • Entering Information: Employers enter the information from Form I-9 into the E-Verify system within three business days of the employee’s start date.
  • Awaiting Results: E-Verify will respond indicating whether the employee’s information matches DHS and SSA records. Most employees receive immediate confirmation, but in some cases, further action may be required.
  • Resolving Discrepancies: Employers and employees must follow specific procedures to address and resolve discrepancies.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Florida business owners should be aware that failing to comply with E-Verify requirements can result in serious consequences:

  • Fines: Employers who neglect to use E-Verify when required may face fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
  • Contract Termination: Non-compliance with E-Verify requirements can lead to the termination of government contracts or the inability to secure future contracts.
  • Reputation Damage: Legal issues related to non-compliance can harm a business’s reputation and hinder growth.

Key Considerations for Florida Business Owners

Navigating the E-Verify system as a Florida business owner involves several key considerations:

Compliance with Florida and Federal Laws

Florida business law attorneys emphasize the importance of complying with state E-Verify mandates and federal immigration laws. Staying informed about changes in these laws is essential to avoid legal complications.

Data Security

Protecting employee data is a paramount concern when using E-Verify. Florida has stringent data protection laws, and businesses must ensure they have robust security measures in place to safeguard sensitive information.

Employee Training

Properly training staff members responsible for using E-Verify is critical. Mistakes in the verification process can result in legal challenges, making thorough training essential for compliance.

Ongoing Monitoring

Florida business owners must stay vigilant in monitoring changes in E-Verify requirements and immigration laws. What is compliant today may not be tomorrow, and ongoing legal counsel can help businesses adapt and avoid costly penalties.

Contact Our Legal Team for Help Understanding Florida’s E-Verify System

Florida business owners must stay proactive and informed about the ever-evolving landscape of business law in Florida. Implementing the E-Verify system is a significant development with opportunities and risks. Compliance with E-Verify requirements is a legal obligation and a step toward building a responsible and reputable business.

Seeking guidance from experienced Florida business law attorneys can be instrumental in navigating the complexities of E-Verify and ensuring your business remains on the right side of the law.

If you have questions or need help with this new system, contact our legal team at (561) 861-1785.