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MANDATORY ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION OF EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY IN ARIZONA

Last week, Governor Janet Napolitano signed the Fair and Legal Employment Act, which makes mandates that all AZ employers are required to run new hires through an electronic verification system (Basic Pilot Program) to ensure employment eligibility.  The law becomes effective January 1, 2008.  In addition, the State Attorney General or County Attorneys will handle all investigations into unauthorized workers.  The Act imposes severe sanctions on employers that violate this law.  The new law establishes a progressive penalty system for employers who violate the statute:

    • First violation for knowingly hiring an unauthorized worker:
      • A court may suspend a business license for a period of up to 10 days.
      • Employer must sign a sworn affidavit stating that the employer has terminated all unauthorized workers within three business days after a finding of guilt.
      • Employer is subject to a three-year probationary period.  During this period, the employer must file quarterly reports with the County Attorney for each new employee hired by the employer.
    • First violation for intentionally hiring an unauthorized worker:
      • A court shall suspend a business license for a minimum of 10 days.
      • Employer must sign a sworn affidavit stating that the employer has terminated all unauthorized workers within three business days after a finding of guilt.
      • Employer is subject to a five-year probationary period.  During this period, the employer must file quarterly reports with the County Attorney for each new employee hired by the employer.
    • Second violation during either of the probationary periods (3 or 5 years):
      • Court shall permanently revoke all licenses that are necessary to conduct business in the State of Arizona.

In accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, it is illegal for employers to knowingly employ individuals who do not have documentation to satisfy the requirements of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form.

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