U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Arizona’s E-Verify Law and Penalty Provisions for Employing Unauthorized Workers

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On May 26, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s 2007 immigration law that requires all employers to use E-Verify for all new hires and permits the revocation of a company’s business license as a penalty for employing unauthorized workers. This decision resulted from a challenge to the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007, not to be confused with the 2010 controversial Arizona “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.”

The Legal Arizona Workers Act

In July 2007, Arizona enacted the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which prohibits Arizona employers from knowingly or intentionally employing individuals unauthorized to work in the U.S. Under the Act, any person may submit a complaint alleging that an employer employs unauthorized workers. Once the complaint is investigated and determined not to be false, the state will initiate legal action against the employer. During the court proceeding, the state is limited to the federal government’s determination of the employee’s lawful status. If the employer is found to have knowingly or intentionally hired a person unauthorized to work in the U.S., the Act permits the court to impose various penalties including the suspension of its license to operate a business in the state of Arizona. The Act defines a license to include any agency permit, certificate, approval, registration, charter, or similar form of authorization, foundational documents, articles of incorporation, and certificates of partnership.

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