Pa. adopts new law requiring construction contractors to E-Verify employees

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Updated Oct 11, 2019

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A new law will take effect in one year in Pennsylvania that requires all employers in the construction industry to verify their new employees’ Social Security numbers to ensure they are authorized to work in the United States.

The Construction Industry Employee Verification Act requires the employers to verify Social Security numbers through the free E-Verify federal database.

“There are many unscrupulous employers who hire individuals not authorized to work in the U.S. for their construction teams,” wrote state Reps. Ryan Mackenzie and John Galloway in a memo introducing the legislation. “These employers and their unfair business practices hurt workers by driving down wages, create an unlevel playing field for other employers to compete against, and deprive government of revenue that would be used to fund programs like unemployment compensation.”

On Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf let the law go into effect without signing it. The law would take effect on October 4, 2020, and expands on the state’s current E-Verify law. That law requires construction employers to verify Social Security numbers of their employees for publicly funded projects over $25,000.

The state law is modeled after Arizona’s E-Verify law, the authors said. Failure to use E-Verify in Pennsylvania when hiring new employees, after the law takes effect, could result in a business losing its license to operate in the state.

The state’s Department of Labor and Industry is charged with investigating any complaints. A first violation will lead to a warning letter, and the employer must verify in writing that the employee has been fired within 10 business days.

Violations after that will be referred to the state’s attorney general for enforcement. If found guilty in court, the employer must fire the employee and undergo a three-year probation in which quarterly reports on new hires are required. Its licenses to do business in the state can be suspended for up to 30 days if it fails to respond to the required measures on time. Violations during the probationary period could lead to license suspension for at least a year.

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Employers will be immune should the E-Verify program provide incorrect information about an employee. Contractors would not be responsible for subcontractors who do not comply. Violations that occur before the law takes effect would be immune from prosecution.