On May 9, 2023, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, signed into law Senate Bill 1718 (“FL 1718”). The law went into effect on July 1, 2023. FL 1718 is an effort to restrict the ability of undocumented people to live and work in the state of Florida.
To this end, FL 1718 has a number of provisions that would specifically apply to a Florida employer that employs or provides transportation to an undocumented worker.
Are there other laws besides FL 1718 that might apply if I were to employ or provide transportation to an undocumented worker?
Before going any further, it is important to note that this article focuses only on Florida state law FL 1718. Additional federal laws and local laws (such as those at the city or local level) might also apply to an employer that employs or provides transportation to an undocumented worker. It is important to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer if you have any questions about how these laws might apply to you or your business.
It is also important to note that certain provisions of FL 1718 have been challenged in court. It is important to check the most updated status of the law and its enforcement.
What are the requirements and prohibitions placed by FL 1718 on an employer that employs or provides transportation to an undocumented worker?
There are a number of requirements and prohibitions created by FL 1718 that apply to an employer that employs or provides transportation to an undocumented worker.
Broadly, FL 1718 prohibits Florida employers from employing an undocumented worker once they have knowledge that the worker is undocumented. Florida employers are required to verify each new employee’s employment eligibility within three days of the employee starting to work for pay. Private employers with 25 or more employees are required to use E-Verify for all new employees.
Public agencies in Florida are prohibited from contracting with a private employer unless the employer registers with E-Verify. A public agency can also terminate a contract if it believes, in good faith, that the private employer violated the prohibition against unauthorized employment.
It is important to note that FL 1718 has additional prohibitions on actions that may be related to employment. For example, the law makes it “human smuggling” and a felony for a person to knowingly and willfully transport into Florida an individual that the person knows or should know is undocumented. This prohibition would presumably apply to an employer that transports an undocumented worker into the state of Florida. Notably, FL 1718 does not criminalize transporting undocumented individuals within the state, or sheltering or renting space to undocumented individuals.
What are the consequences under FL 1718 to an employer that employs or provides transportation to an undocumented worker?
The penalties that result from employing an undocumented worker increase in severity, depending on the number of undocumented workers the employer employs, and the number of times the employer has violated the prohibition on employing undocumented workers.
For example, noncompliance can result in the suspension of all state business licenses until the employer comes into compliance. This can have serious consequences for some employers.
If the employer is found to have failed to use E-Verify three times in a two-year period, the employer could face monetary penalties of $1,000 per day until it starts complying with the requirement.
Who has authority to investigate and enforce FL 1718?
Starting on July 1, 2024, Florida’s state law enforcement agencies can perform random audits of businesses for compliance with these provisions.
Are there any other prohibitions or requirements created by FL 1718?
Yes, in addition to the provisions described here, there are a number of additional provisions created by FL 1718 that are intended to restrict the ability of undocumented individuals to live and work in Florida. A summary of the bill can be found here, and the full text of the bill can be found here.
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