• Texas Governor Signs Bill Mandating E-Verify: New Law is Limited to State Agencies, Not Businesses that Contract with Them
  • June 19, 2015
  • Law Firm: Foster LLP - Houston Office
  • On Wednesday, June 10th, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 374 into law. Effective September 1st of this year, the new law requires that all state agencies register and participate in E-Verify to verify information of all newly hired agency employees and will be enforced by the Texas Workforce Commission. The definition of state agency includes a department, commission, board, office, or other agency of any branch of state government, including an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003 of the Education Code. The law does not apply to contractors or sub-contractors providing services to these agencies.
     
    In a bill-signing statement, Governor Abbott declared, “This bill adds appropriate checks on the hiring of individuals not lawfully present in this nation by state agencies, incentivizes lawful immigration and assures taxpayers that their hard-earned dollars are being used responsibly.” Governor Abbot did not mention former Governor Perry or RP-80, the executive order on E-Verify issued his predecessor just before leaving office. However, the bill codifies, clarifies and supersedes Perry’s executive order, effectively clearing up months of questions and concerns raised by business and community leaders by establishing that:
     
    1. E-Verify enrollment is mandatory for all state agencies, not simply those agencies subject to the Governor’s direct control;
    2. The E-Verify mandate does not apply to businesses that contract with state agencies; and
    3. Only employees hired after the employer’s enrollment in E-Verify may be verified through the E-Verify system.
    Prior to enrolling in E-Verify, employers should consider conducting a pre-emptive audit of the employer’s existing workforce and employment eligibility verification policies in order to mitigate potential exposure. Such proactive measures can help employers avoid unexpected labor disruptions resulting from the use of E-Verify while trying to fulfill contractual obligations.
     
    If an employer has already enrolled in E-Verify and wishes to unenroll, please contact your Foster attorney for guidance. For those employers who work with Texas state agencies or the federal government, employers are encouraged to check their contracts for any language requiring enrollment in E-Verify.
     
    As always, Foster will continue to monitor changes in requirements and procedures that impact on immigration-related benefits and requirements and will provide future updates via our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.