New Pennsylvania Law Requires E-Verify Use for State Public Works Contractors and Subcontractors

A bill recently signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett – Act No. 127 (formerly Senate Bill 637), The Public Works Employment Verification Act – requires all public works contractors and subcontractors with the state to enroll in and use the federal E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system to verify the legal work authorization status of newly hired employees in the United States.  The text of the new legislation, which will take effect January 1, 2013, is available here: The Public Works Employment Verification Act.

Under Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act of 1961, “public work” is defined as follows: Construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration and/or repair work other than maintenance work, done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of the funds of a public body where the estimated cost of the total project is in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), but shall not include work performed under a rehabilitation or manpower training program.

Beginning January 1, 2013, the new law will require public works state contractors and subcontractors to use the E-Verify system to verify the employment eligibility of each new employee. In conducting the verification with E-Verify, a public works contractor or subcontractor shall not discriminate against an employee on the basis of race, ethnicity, color or national origin.

As a precondition of being awarded a contract for a public work, a public works contractor and its subcontractors shall provide the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with a verification form acknowledging responsibilities under and compliance with the law. Contracts between a public works contractor and its subcontractors shall also contain information about the requirements of the act.

Failure of public works state contractors and subcontractors in Pennsylvania to use E-Verify by January 1, 2013 would lead to the following sanctions:

  • For a first violation, a public works contractor or subcontractor will receive a warning letter detailing the violation that shall be posted on the Department of General Services of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Internet website.
  • For a second violation, a public works contractor or subcontractor shall be debarred from public work for 30 days.
  • For a third violation and subsequent violations, a public works contractor or subcontractor shall be debarred from public work for not less than 180 days and not more than one year.
  • If the public works contractor or subcontractor is found to have engaged in a willful violation, that public works contractor or subcontractor will be debarred from public work for a period of three years.

In addition, the new law will also subject willful violators who misrepresent themselves to a civil penalty of $250 or up to $1,000 for each violation. It also contains protections for whistleblowers and a “Good Faith” defense clause. The full text of the law is available here: Act No. 127 (formerly Senate Bill 637), The Public Works Employment Verification Act.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 made it unlawful for an employer “to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien.” The IRCA also requires employers to take steps to verify an employee’s eligibility for employment.

In an attempt to improve that process, the U.S. Congress created E-Verify, a free Internet-based system that allows employers to verify the legal work authorization status of newly hired employees by checking information on the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 that all newly hired employees in the U.S. are required to complete against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases.

While federal law mandates that federal contractors and subcontractors in all states use E-Verify, several U.S. states have enacted laws mandating E-Verify usage, creating a confusing patchwork of regulations. A Designated E-Verify Employer Agent such as Employment Screening Resources (ESR) can help employers with E-Verify compliance. For more information about E-Verify services from ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php

To learn more about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) –  at http://www.esrcheck.com/, call 415.898.0044, or email customerservice@esrcheck.com.

Source:
http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2011&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0637&pn=2347

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percentage of screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/, call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474 (Toll Free), or email customerservice@esrcheck.com.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com.