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Hiring Illegal Aliens

Reference Number: MTAS-2059
Reviewed Date: 08/29/2023

Individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations or any other legal entity are prohibited from knowingly employing an illegal alien. An "illegal alien" is defined as a person who is, at the time of employment, neither an alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States, nor authorized to be employed by the federal Immigration and Naturalization Act or the United States attorney general. T.C.A. 50-1-103(a)(4).

Verification of status consistent with the employer requirements of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 is a defense if the verification information was false or the employer used the federal work authorization verification service. T.C.A. 50-1-103(c). Verification can be accomplished utilizing the I-9 verification form or the Federal E-Verify system.

Local government officers and employees with reason to believe they have knowledge of a violation must file a complaint with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. T.C.A. § 50-1-103(e)(1).

Public Chapter No. 832 (2022) Amended (effective May 9, 2022) T.C.A. § 50-1-703(a)(6) by providing that when a municipal employer has less than 35 full-time equivalent employees, the Office of Employment Verification Assistance must, at no charge to the municipal employer, enroll the employer in the E-Verify program or conduct work authorization status checks of the employer’s employees by using E-Verify, after the municipality signs a required form and completes the required paperwork.

Amended T.C.A. § 50-1-703(a)(1)(B)(ii) by providing that when an employer enrolls in E-Verify prior to hiring an employee, instead of requesting and maintaining certain government issued documents, the employer is required to maintain the case results for each employee that show the employee is authorized to work in the U.S. Requires the case results to visibly show the employees work authorization status.

Amended Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 50, Chapter 1, Part 8 to include that an employee does not have a civil cause of action against an employer for wrongful or retaliatory discharge, when the employee is not authorized to work in the U.S. under federal immigration laws and the employer was not aware that the employee was not authorized to work in the U.S.

And, amended Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 21, Part 4 by providing that if an employer discovers that an employee is not authorized to work in the U.S. through results produced by E-Verify and discharges the employee based upon the results, then the employee does not have a cause of action for discrimination based upon national origin under the Tennessee Human Rights Act.