Worker status blame shifts

Attention business owners: Beginning this week Louisiana law requires added steps and paperwork to confirm citizenship of employees as being those legally residing and working in the United States.



During their regular 2011 session, state legislators built on existing federal law by specifying that in addition to having picture identification to verify a hire’s right to work in Louisiana, employers must now see a U.S. birth certificate or certified birth card, a naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, and a current alien resident receipt card or a U.S. immigration form I-94 with employment authorization stamp.

Requirements may be fulfilled by original copy or electronic filing with the federal E-Verify system. The new rules apply to both public and private employers.



Act 376 was introduced by state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite) and co-signed by 40 members of the state House including Reps. Damon Baldone (D-Houma), Jerry Gisclair (D-Larose) and Jerome Richard (NP-Thibodaux).



The measure passed the House by a vote of 95-10. Tri-parish delegates, in addition to Baldone, Gisclair and Richard that supported the measure included state Reps. Joe Harrison (R-Gray) and Sam Jones (D-Franklin). State Rep. Gordon Dove, (R-Houma) voted in opposition.

On the Senate side, final passage came with a 27-8-4 vote as state Sen. Norby Chabert (R-Houma) voted nay and state Sen. D.A. “Butch” Gautreaux (D-Morgan City) was among the four that were absent.

While we support an intention to help protect the rights and employment opportunities of those natural citizens and immigrants who have gone through appropriate steps to live and work here, we find it unfortunate that the government, through Act 376, has placed additional obligations and burdens on employers who could face fines of up to $2,500 and suspension of business license for non-compliance.

Contractors found to be in violation may be subject to cancellation of any public project and ineligible to take on municipal, parish or state projects for up to three years from the violation date.

Employers intentionally harboring illegal aliens by providing income and in some cases falsifying documents should be slapped with heavy consequences.

Unfortunately, as with most government actions, we fear it is the honest employers and employees who will pay the price by facing added expense and loss of productivity due to processing time required to satisfy the rules that keep bureaucrats in business at taxpayer expense.