California law penalizes misuse of e-verify

California Governor Jerry Brown today signed AB 622, a new state law that penalizes employers for improperly using the federal E-Verify employment eligibility verification system. The new law does not require or prohibit the use of E-Verify; rather, it imposes state fines on employers who do not use the system in accordance with federal rules. 
E-Verify is a largely voluntary program that allows registered employers to check the employment authorization of new employees through an online system, in addition to completing their mandatory Form I-9 obligations.  
E-Verify is used to check the work authorization of new hires only in most cases. It cannot be used to verify individuals who have not accepted a job offer from the employer. It cannot be used to check the employment eligibility of an existing employee, unless the employer is a federal government contractor and the employee is working on a federal contract that requires e-verification. E-Verify employers are required to notify any employee whose E-Verify check results in a notice that his or her information does not match Department of Homeland Security or Social Security Administration records, known as a “tentative non-confirmation.”
California employers who misuse E-Verify by conducting an improper verification or by failing to inform an employee of a tentative non-confirmation are subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, in addition to any federal liability.

What the New Law Means for Employers

AB 622 does not impose any new employment verification obligations on California employers or place any additional limitations on the use of E-Verify. But it increases the liability of E-Verify employers who violate the terms of the federal government memorandum of understanding they sign when they register to use the system.