E-Verify is an Internet-based system through which an employer can verify that a newly hired employee is authorized to work in the United States. SB 664 by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) would require certain private employers to register with E-Verify or an alternate employment verification system. Certain public employers, contractors and subcontractors must also register and use an employment verification system to confirm that their employees are not unauthorized aliens. Contractors or subcontractors that have less than 10 employees in Florida and that have contracts valued under $65,000 and $35,000, respectively, are exempt from the employment verification process. Public employers and their contractors and subcontractors, as well as private employers of 100 or more employees must register with a system by July 1, 2021. Private employers of 20 or more employees must register with a system by January 1, 2022.
After being fully implemented, the bill would apply to private employers that have 20 or more employees in the state. If the employer does not register with an employment verification system, the employer may face a $500 fine and have 30 days to register. If the employer has still not registered within those 30 days, the Department of Economic Opportunity will order the appropriate agency to suspend the employer’s business license.
An employer who relies on E-Verify’s evidence that a person is unauthorized may not be sued for refusing to hire the unauthorized person. If E-Verify indicates that an employee is eligible to work in the United States, there is a rebuttable presumption that the employer did not knowingly employ an unauthorized alien.On February 11, SB 664 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 4-2, with Senator Audrey Gibson (D- Jacksonville) and Senator Jose Rodriguez (D-Miami) voting no. On February 18, the bill passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee by a vote of 3-2, with Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and Senator Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) voting no. The Senate bill awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee but is not on the committee’s agenda for Wednesday, February 26. The House companion – HB 1265 by Representative Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) and Representative Fitzenhagen (R-Ft. Myers) has been referred to three committees and has not received its first committee hearing.