The Society for Human Resource Management, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and three other groups filed a lawsuit late last month challenging the legality of an executive order that requires federal contractors to use E-Verify, the federal government’s Web-based system that uses Social Security files to ensure that employees are legal immigrants or citizens eligible to work in the United States.  Click here to read a copy of the complaint:  Chamber of Commerce of the United States of Am. v. Chertoff, D. Md., No. 8:08-cv-03444-AW (12/23/08).

President Bush signed an executive order in June that made E-Verify mandatory starting January 15, 2009 for federal contractors with projects exceeding $100,000 and for sub-contractors with projects exceeding $3,000.  The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the January 15 implementation of the executive order. 

According to SHRM’s press release, the system isn’t ready for widespread use and would place an unreasonable burden on employers.  “This massive expansion of E-Verify is not only bad policy, it’s unlawful,” according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s press release.  “The Administration can’t use an Executive Order to circumvent federal immigration and procurement laws. Federal law explicitly prohibits the secretary of Homeland Security from making E-Verify mandatory or from using it to re-authorize the existing workforce.” 

The Stoel Rives World of Employment will be watching this lawsuit, and we’ll post updates as they occur.  For now, it’s safest to assume that the order will take effect January 15 and that contractors will be required to use the system.  If that changes, we’ll let you know.