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Tennessee Lawful Employment Act

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Frequently Asked Questions

TLEA Complaint Form

The Tennessee Lawful Employment Act (TLEA) took effect January 1, 2012, and requires employers to obtain lawful resident/employment verification information.   The amendment is Public Chapter No. 436 and can be viewed at http://www.tn.gov/sos/acts/107/pub/pc0436.pdf

Signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on June 7, 2011, the TLEA  requires all employers in Tennessee to demonstrate that they are hiring and maintaining a legal workforce either by:

Enrolling and verifying the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees through the E-Verify program, or

Requesting all newly hired employees and “non-employees” to provide one of the following identity and employment authorization documents:  

  • 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; (For a list of states with requirements as strict as those in Tennessee, please click here).
  • 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)

A “non-employee” is an individual, other than an employee, who is paid directly by the employer in exchange for the individual’s labor or services.  If your place of business contracts services from an outside entity that operates as an LLC or Corporation then no action is required to verify that company’s employees.  If your place of business contracts services from an individual, then your company must request the non-employee to provide one of the above referenced documents.

Federal law still requires all employers to complete an I-9 form for all new hires (including U.S. citizens). The information obtained for the I-9 form can be, but is not required to be, verified through the E-Verify program once obtained by the employer.


For employers without internet access, the new law will allow such employers to enter into an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development (TDLWD) and permit this agency to enroll the employer in the E-Verify program and conduct employment verification checks of new hires.  To view this agreement, Request for E-Verify Service, please click here.  The employer will also be required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the employer, TDLWD, and the Department of Homeland Security.  Please click here to view this MOU.

Under the Act, the employment verification provisions referenced above will be phased in as follows:

All state and local government agencies must enroll and participate in E-Verify or request and maintain  one of the above listed identity/employment authorization documents from a newly hired employee no later than January 1, 2012 

All private employers with 500 or more employees must enroll and participate in E-Verify or request and maintain  one of the above listed identity/employment authorization documents from a newly hired employee or non-employee no later than January 1, 2012

All private employers with 200 to 499 employees must enroll and participate in E-Verify or request and maintain  one of the above listed identity/employment authorization document from a newly hired employee or non-employee no later than July 1, 2012

All private employers with 6 to 199 employees must register and utilize E-Verify or request and maintain one of the above listed identity/employment authorization document from a newly hired employee or non-employee no later than January 1, 2013

In determining the number of employees the employer must count all employees whether employed in Tennessee or outside of Tennessee.

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.

Please contact the Labor Standards Division toll-free at 1-855-TNEBILL (1-855-863-2455) or 615-741-2247 for more information, or you may direct inquiries regarding the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act to cathy.pardue@tn.gov.