Some Alabama employers recently received an interesting letter from the Alabama Department of Labor that goes something like this:
An audit of your wage report for the quarter shows incorrect/invalid social security numbers were reported. Please review the attached printout and provide the correct social security numbers of each employee. Listed below are the acceptable documentations to be submitted:
Copy of valid social security card
Proof of validation through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services E-Verify website
Failure to respond WITHIN 30 DAYS may result in taxes and/or penalties.
A letter pointing out a discrepancy with a social security number is not that surprising, but the Alabama Department of Labors request for E-verify confirmations is a little bit of a shock and leads to some questions, such as:
- Is the Alabama Department of Labor trying to enforce the Alabama Immigration Law by confirming that employers are using E-verify? (Im not sure the Alabama Department of Labor has the authority to ask for E-verify confirmations on the same basis as the federal government agencies such as ICE).
- Is this letter about ensuring employees are work authorized?
- What will be done with the information provided to the Alabama Department of Labor?
While the answers to these questions are unclear, employers who receive these letters should proceed cautiously in contacting the applicable employees and asking for documentation to confirm their social security numbers. There are implications both in terms of avoiding discrimination claims investigated by the Office of Special Counsel and in terms of avoiding worksite enforcement fines by ICE.
These letters suggest that the Alabama Department of Labor actually may be kickstarting enforcement of state law, HB56, that requires that employees be work authorized. Remember that HB56 Section 15 violations includes business license suspension for 10 days for the first offense. That could be painful.