Pierce County Council approves worker eligibility system

Pierce County Council today unanimously authorized the county to participate in E-Verify, a federal Internet database that instantly confirms whether or not job applicants have documents establishing their eligibility to work in the United States. Applicants for county jobs will be screened using E-Verify, and most businesses seeking to do contract work for the county will be required to use the system for their own employees.

As part of the ordinance, businesses would need to confirm they are enrolled in E-Verify if they are seeking road or other county public works contracts worth more than $100,000. Those applying for any other contract worth more than $25,000 must do the same.

According to the county, E-Verify works by allowing employers to electronically compare employees’ information taken from the federal Form I-9 — the paper-based employment form used for all new hires — against more than 449 million records in the Social Security Administration database and 80 million records in the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration database.

The city of Lakewood uses E-Verify for all of their contracts, and 11 other U.S. states use some form of E-Verify requirement for their state and local contracts. The federal government also uses the system to check the status of its own new hires and requires its contractors to participate.