June 24, 2024

Recently, Ohio legislators have begun considering House Bill 327 (HB 327). If passed into law, HB 327 would mandate employers use the federal government’s E-Verify system for employment eligibility verification (Form I-9).

As such, public and private Ohio employers must verify new hires’ work authorization with E-Verify. According to State Representative D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), “This legislation prioritizes Ohio’s workforce by guaranteeing that jobs stay with those legally permitted to work here.” He stressed, “Illegally obtaining jobs cannot be tolerated in our state.”

Rep. Swearingen continued explaining how mandating E-Verify would benefit local employers and employees. In one statement, he claimed, “It’s a fairness issue. Those employers who are doing it the right way should be rewarded for hiring a legal workforce, and those workers who are doing it the right way by being here legally to work should also be rewarded.”

The E-Verify system is a web-based federal tool that uses the information on Form I-9 to verify new employees’ work authorization. The Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration maintain E-Verify together. According to the agencies, this system helps reduce fraud and streamline the verification process.

Though some states have mandated that employers use E-Verify, the system remains largely optional in the United States. Furthermore, over 18,000 Ohio employers have already enrolled and use the system. No state currently requires private employers to use E-Verify.

This realization is why lawmakers turned to HB 327. This bill would create a framework for requiring any “Employer” to use the E-Verify system. The bill defined employers as “the state, any political subdivision of the state, any employer employing seventy-five or more individuals within the state, and any nonresidential construction contractor employing one or more individuals within the state.”

HB 327 also requires a provision in contracts for nonresidential construction projects. In such cases, contractors or subcontractors must verify every tradesperson’s work authorization and identity via E-Verify. The bill would also require the attorney general to prescribe complaint forms for alleging a violation of such a provision.

If the attorney general finds that an individual or entity has violated a contract provision, it must provide notice and the opportunity for a hearing. It may also order the subject to pay a $1,000 fine and provide proof of correcting the violation. For a second violation, the attorney general may assess a fine of up to $2,500. Any subsequent violation may see fines of $5,000 each.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.