9th Circuit Upholds AZ Employer Sanctions Law

In a blow to Arizona employers, the 9th Circuit upheld the controversial Legal Arizona Workers Act, which imposes state sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers and requires all employers to participate in the much-maligned E-Verify program.  

The law suspends or revokes the business licenses of employers caught knowingly hiring undocumented employees.

The plaintiffs argued the law unconstitutionally usurps the federal government’s power to regulate immigration. The three-judge panel rejected all of the arguments set forth by the plaintiffs, who included more than a dozen business and Hispanic groups.

Despite upholding the law, the court left the door open for future challenges based on how the act is eventually enforced by the state.

We uphold the statute in all respects against this facial challenge, but we must observe that it is brought against a blank factual background of enforcement and outside the context of any particular case. If and when the statute is enforced, and the factual background is developed, other challenges to the Act as applied in any particular instance or manner will not be controlled by our decision.

The plaintiff’s may seek an en banc review, in which the entire 9th Circuit would examine the case and issue a ruling. The case may also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As enforcement against unauthorized employment is increasing at the national as well as the state level, employers will want to be sure they are I-9 compliant.  

The court’s opinion is available here.

Information about Arizona’s Legal Workers Act and worksite enforcement issues is available here.

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