On April 19, 2022, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed legislation lowering the employee
threshold from 50 to 35 for employers to be required to use E-Verify concerning whether new
hires are authorized to work. Since January 1, 2017, the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act
(TLEA) has required employers with 50 or more employees nationwide to use E-Verify for new
hires.
Also, the new law amends the TLEA requiring an employer to:
[M]aintain an E-Verify case result for each employee that shows that the
employee is authorized to work, whether on the E-Verify Quick Audit Report, the
E-Verify User Audit Report, or the individual employee E-Verify case
verification result. The E-Verify case result must be visible showing the work
authorization status.
Additionally, the amended law includes several new provisions:
(1) Protects employers from retaliatory discharge if the employee was not authorized to
work and the employer was not aware that the employee is not authorized to work;
(2) Employee does not have a cause of action for discrimination based on national origin
if an employer discovers an employee is not authorized to work in the United States
through E-Verify and discharges the employee based on those positive results; and
(3) The Office of Employment Verification Assistance is created and if an employer does
not have internet access, the Office shall, at no charge to the employer, enroll the
employer in E-Verify or conduct work authorization status checks of the employer's
employees by using E-Verify as long as the employer signs a prescribed form and
completes paperwork required by E-Verify to permit the Office to provide assistance.
The portion of the law related to lowering the employee threshold is effective on January 1,
2023, while other portions of the law are effective immediately.
Currently, Tennessee’s 50-employee threshold is the highest of the eight states requiring
employers to utilize E-Verify. The other states, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North
Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah, have employee threshold from one employee to 25
employees (North Carolina).
If you want to know more information on issues related to employer immigration compliance, I
recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind,
and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.