South Carolina Plans for Increasing E-Verify Audits

In roughly 15 days, South Carolina’s E-Verify law (which is one of the toughest in the nation) will expand to include all employers, regardless of size or industry. Presently, the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act requires employers with 100 employees or more (of which there are roughly 2,100 in the State) to submit new hires through E-Verify or confirm that the individuals possess or qualify for a South Carolina driver’s license or other state license with similarly strict requirements.

On July 1, 2010, the law will expand to cover organizations with less than 100 employees, or roughly 110,000 additional employers according to the agency’s estimates. Failure to abide by the law can lead to a civil penalty of between $100 and $1,000 for each violation. Since the law went into effect on July of last year, the state has audited 1,500 companies and issued roughly 90 citations for various failures. In almost all cases, the state has waived the penalty under the law’s first time violation exception as long as the employer begins using E-Verify or otherwise corrects the problem within 72 hours.

Although the citations have been relatively low, the State expects this to pick up next month when they turn their attention on smaller employers (particularly those in the hospitality and construction industry). The most recent reported case concerned a Michigan-based company, which avoided a $3,400 fine last Thursday by supplying the state with proof that the organization is now using E-Verify for workers at a school district construction site.

Prior to the fine, the agency had discovered that four workers on the site weren’t E-verified (three of whom turned out to be unauthorized to work in the US). For a complete list of citations by month, visit the state’s Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR) site here.