Florida Enacts E-Verify Law With Strict Penalty Provisions

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

May 11, 2023

As of July 1, a new Florida law will require all private employers with 25 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of their workers. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure yesterday, which also permits random audits of employers suspected of hiring undocumented workers.

Penalty provisions go into effect July 1, 2024, and will give businesses 30 days to cure noncompliance after receiving notice from the state's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). An employer that fails to use the E-Verify system three times in a 24-month period will face a fine of $1,000 per day until it provides proof of compliance to the DEO.

The new measure also makes it a third-degree felony for an undocumented worker to knowingly use a false identification document to gain employment.

"We must further strengthen our laws against illegal immigration by enhancing employment verification, increasing penalties for human smuggling and further disincentivizing illegal migration to the state of Florida," said Gov. DeSantis during his State of the State address earlier this year.

Under the law, each covered employer also must certify on its first tax return each calendar year that it is in compliance with E-Verify when making contributions to, or reimbursing, Florida's unemployment compensation or reemployment assistance system.

Several states have mandatory E-Verify laws requiring private employers to confirm the work eligibility of all new hires. using the federal electronic verification system, including:

  • Alabama;
  • Arizona;
  • Georgia;
  • Louisiana;
  • Mississippi;
  • North Carolina;
  • South Carolina;
  • Tennessee; and
  • Utah.

Other states have E-Verify laws applying to state contractors and subcontractors. Since 2021, Florida public employers and their private contractors have had to use the E-Verify system. But the new Florida law goes much further, as do its penalty provisions.