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California Employers: Stuck Between Federal and State Form I-9 Laws. What is California’s AB 450?

I-9 form, Labor Shortage, DHS

With growing federal employment immigration enforcement, California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law AB-450, the California Immigration Worksite Enforcement Act.  AB-450 imposes requirements on all California employers when complying with federal immigration laws related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

AB-450 prohibits employers from voluntarily permitting federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents to search nonpublic areas of a worksite or accessing or reviewing any employee personnel records absent a judicial warrant, subpoena, or court order.

Further, when DHS agents arrive at an employer’s door demanding entry to conduct a “random” worksite Form I-9 audit, employers are prohibited from complying, absent a Notice of Inspection, and must invoke the federal “72-Hour Notice of Inspection Rule,” which allows employers to elect a 3-day adjournment of the DHS Form I-9 inspection or audit.  During the next 72 hours, the employer must: (1) provide all current employees with notification of the DHS Form I-9 audit by posting notices throughout the workplace in each language an employer uses to communicate with an employee; (2) notify any authorized employee representatives, including labor unions; and (3) provide a copy of the DHS Notice of Inspection to any requesting employee.

Critics of AB-450 argue that the law will lead to conflicts with federal laws and regulations, and will only confuse employers.  Proponents note that AB-450 will only ensure that the rights of employers and employees are protected when ICE comes knocking at HR’s California door.

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