Senate Bill 2988 of the 2008 Legislative Session, known as the Mississippi Employment Protection Act (MEPA), fully enacted in July 2011, requires all employers to participate in E-Verify. Penalties for non-compliance include the cancellation of public contracts, ineligibility for public contracts for up to three years, and a private employer may have its business license revoked for up to one year.
MEPA is unusual in that an “employer” is defined as a person or business who is required to issue a Form W-2 or Form 1099 to any employed or contracted individual in Mississippi, meaning that employers are required to verify independent contractors as well as traditional employees.
The requirement to verify independent contractors contradicts federal law and the regulations regarding E-Verify, which allow employers to complete Form I-9 and verify W-2 employees only. A bill introduced in the Mississippi legislature in 2014 to correct the problem died in committee, but could be reconsidered in a subsequent session.
Individual homeowners who hire workers on their private property for non-commercial purposes are exempt.
It a discriminatory practice for an employer to terminate a work-authorized employee while retaining a non-work authorized employee, if the two employees had substantially similar job duties.
The law provides a “safe harbor” from prosecution if the employer is properly using the E-Verify system.
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