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Amendment to Tennessee “Illegal Aliens” Law

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On January 1, 2008, an amendment to Tennessee’s “illegal aliens” statute (Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 50-1-103) becomes effective.  This law currently says that individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, and other legal entities “shall not knowingly employ, recruit, or refer for a fee for employment” any undocumented employees.

The amendment creates new procedures for suspending business licenses of employers who knowingly hire undocumented employees.  First-time violators face suspension of their business licenses in addition to any penalties that might apply under federal law.  A first-time offending employer can have a business license restored by filing an affidavit stating that undocumented workers are no longer being employed.  Second-time violators can have their business licenses suspended for one full year.

The Tennessee statute, as amended, says that employers who verify employment by completing the federal Form I-9 within 14 days of employment can’t be found to have violated the statute, even if the documentation provided by the employee is later found to be false.  It’s obviously crucial, therefore, for employers to timely complete I-9′s for all employees.  Remember also that the I-9 has been updated and the list of acceptable documents for verification has changed.

For the full text of the amended Tennessee statute, go to http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/bills/currentga/Chapter/PC0529.pdf.

For a copy of the new I-9, go to http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf.

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