By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

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Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711), which proposes numerous changes to current law, including requiring every employer in the U.S. to use E-Verify or an electronic employment eligibility verification system.

Here is a summary of the bill’s key provisions:
  • Mandatory employer participation in the E-Verify phased in over a two-year period based on the size of the employer;
  • Conditional job offers, based on passing E-Verify, which is contrary to current law, which prohibits use of E-Verify until a job offer is accepted;
  • Within 6 months of the bill’s enactment, these current workforce employees would have to have their employment eligibility reverified: employees who require a federal security clearance; workers assigned to a federal contract; and federal, state, and local government employee;
  • Beginning 30 days after the bill is enacted, an employer would be allowed to voluntarily use E-Verify to reverify the employment eligibility of any current employee, if the employer reverified all individuals at the same geographic location or employed within the same job category;
  • Employers would also have to use E-Verify, according to the phase-in timeline for employers based on their size, for workers with expiring work authorization;
  • Many documents, that are currently acceptable, would no longer be acceptable for proving employment eligibility;
  • Employers would be relieved of liability for any employment action taken with respect to a worker if the employer had verified the worker’s identity and employment eligibility and relied on information provided by E-Verify in good faith;
  • Would substantially increase penalties for employers who knowingly hired or employed unauthorized workers and who failed to use E-Verify or knowingly submitted false information to E-Verify, but fines for knowingly hiring or employing an unauthorized worker could be waived if the employer established that it acted in good faith;
  • Would preempt states and localities from passing employer sanctions and employment eligibility verification laws; but, it would allow states to use business licensing and similar laws to penalize employers for not using E-Verify. It would also allow a state, at its own cost, to enforce the provisions of the Legal Workforce Act if it followed the federal regulations, rules, and guidance implementing the act.


I will keep you apprised of any actions taken toward passage of the Legal Workforce Act though it is highly unlikely that this bill will pass the U.S. Senate.