Employment Verification

Tennessee Lawful Employment Act

The Tennessee Lawful Employment Act (TLEA) requires all employers in Tennessee to demonstrate that they are hiring and maintaining a legal workforce. Select the following items to reveal additional information regarding the 2017 TLEA Act and appropriate documentation.

  • Effective January 1, 2017, private employers with 50 or more employees under the same FEIN are required to use the federal E-Verify employment verification process. This applies to employees working in or outside the state of Tennessee.
  • Under the old law, private-sector employers had to choose a verification process before their newly hired employees could begin work:
    1. Use E-Verify or
    2. Request and maintain copies of identity and work authorization documents.
  • After January 1, 2017, private employers with fewer than 50 employees may choose to:
    1. Use E-Verify for newly hired employees or
    2. Request and maintain documents under the TLEA’s list of authorized identity and employment eligibility documents.
  • Although not required for employers with fewer than 50 employees, using E-Verify may be helpful if an audit is conducted. The service is free and user-friendly.
  • The TLEA covers not only employees but also “non-employees” as well.
  • Non-employees are defined as individuals who, while not employed directlyare paid directly by the employer for labor or services. Companies in Tennessee are required to request and maintain copies of certain identity and work authorization documents for non-employees, unless an exception applies (i.e. workers are employed by a separate company).
  • The TLEA contains penalties: 
    • First-time offenders with knowing violations are subject to a $500 company penalty as well as a $500 fine for each employee and non-employee the company failed to verify. 
    • For repeat offenders, the penalties may rise to as high as a $2,500 company fine plus and additional $2,500 for each employee.
  • There is also a $500 penalty for failing to enroll in E-Verify and a $500/day penalty for failing to timely produce evidence of compliance within 45 days of a final order of violation.

Newly hired employees and non-employees are required to provide one of the following identity and employment authorization documents prior to performing work:

  • A valid Tennessee driver's license or photo identification;
  • A valid driver's license or photo identification from another state where; the license requirements are at least as strict as those in Tennessee; 
  • A birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, jurisdiction or territory;
  • A U.S. government issued certified birth certificate;
  • A valid, unexpired U.S. passport;
  • A U.S. certificate of birth abroad (DS-1350 or FS-545);
  • A report of birth abroad of a U.S. citizen (FS-240);
  • A certificate of citizenship (N560 or N561);
  • A certificate of naturalization (N550, N570 or N578);
  • A U.S. citizen identification card (I-197 or I-179);
  • Valid alien registration documentation or other proof of current immigration registration recognized by the United States department of homeland security that contains the individual’s complete legal name and current alien admission number or alien file number (or numbers if the individual has more than one number)


Use E-Verify for your business

The department is authorized to enter into any memorandum of understanding or other agreement required by the E-Verify program to operate this office. If an employer does not have Internet access, then the office shall, at no charge to the employer, enroll the employer in the E-Verify program or conduct work authorization status checks of the employer's employees by using the E-Verify program; provided, that the employer signs a prescribed form, under penalty of perjury, attesting to the employer's lack of Internet access and completes any paperwork required by the E-Verify program to permit the office to provide such assistance.

TLEA Complaint Form

Any lawful resident of Tennessee or any employee of a federal agency may file a complaint alleging a violation of the employment verification provisions of the Act.  If there is satisfactory evidence of a violation, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development will conduct an investigation.  The complaint shall, at a minimum, include the name of the individual filing the complaint, and satisfactory evidence of a violation as determined by the commissioner.



Labor Standards Unit