Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram

“Unlike other law firms, we are clients and friends all on a first-name basis, and even though not a significant client, I still receive first-class attention.”

Bart Eisner – President and Owner, The Eisner Companies


Immigration laws have a direct and significant impact on the construction industry.  In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers (13.6 versus 8.6 percent) to be employed in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations See Labor Force Characteristics of Foreign-Born Workers Summary (for release May 27, 2011, available at: 

While immigration issues continue to dominate as a political "hot button", many states and the federal government have recently taken significant action relating to the issue of verifying the eligibility of workers.  Given the number of foreign-born workers in the construction labor pool and the continuing trend toward increased scrutiny of eligibility issues and strict enforcement actions, employers in the construction industry are likely to be faced with increased obligations for verifying the eligibility of their work force and may be subject to serious, even catastrophic, penalties for any failing to do so.  This is particularly true for those who wish to contract with government entities on any level.

Currently, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986) requires employers to verify the eligibility of all workers, using Form I-9, and makes it a crime to knowingly hire ineligible workers.  But the I-9 System has come under severe scrutiny in recent years.  In response, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) has developed an Internet-based system that allows employers to verify eligibility using federal data bases to compare information from an employee's Form I-9 to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration.  This new system, called E-Verify, has not been without controversy and its use is not yet mandatory for all employers in all situations.  Yet current trends clearly suggest that an employer that does not use E-Verify risks losing significant business opportunities and, in some cases, much more.

As of June 2011, 17 states and the District of Columbia had E-Verify mandates in place.  The state mandates vary and many limit the mandatory use of E-Verify to employers who contract with state and local governments.  Nevertheless, it is clear that mandatory use of E‑Verify is becoming more and more prevalent.  Moreover, some of the state laws have a much wider reach and come with onerous penalties for failing to comply.  In May 2011, the Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that requires all employers to us E-Verify and provides that a state may suspend an employer's business license that knowingly hires undocumented workers.  In June 2011, the Supreme Court also overturned a lower court's ruling that stopped a Hazleton, Pa. city ordinance requiring the use of E-Verify and remanded the case to the Third Circuit with instructions to review the matter given the Court's decision on the Arizona law.

On June 14, 2011, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a new bill titled The Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2164) which, if adopted as written, would require all U.S. employers to use the E-Verify system.  The bill would also preempt the state E-Verify laws that have been enacted.  The bill is currently co-sponsored by 25 members of the House of Representatives and has been referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Education and the Workforce, and Ways and Means.

With the Supreme Court's blessing of state mandatory E-Verify laws and the current political climate, there is good reason to expect that many more states will pass mandatory E‑Verify laws and that states with such laws in place may look to strengthen their laws, broaden their reach, and/or increase enforcement efforts.  And, although it is in its early stages and the content of any final version is now largely unpredictable, it appears that a federal E-Verify mandate may be on the horizon.  Employers may wish to begin the transition to E-Verify now to stay ahead of these trends.   This may be particularly important for employers in industries like construction that have a large population of foreign-born workers.

For more information about E-Verify and how to begin using the system, visit the USCIS website at:


Found In: Construction

Did You Know . . .

Members of the SLS trial group have tried in excess of 50 jury trials and 75 bench trials?

The SLS construction group has worked on sports stadiums across the country including Orioles Park in Baltimore and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati?

The SLS construction group has worked on power plant projects across the country?

In 2007 SLS was selected for an Honorable Mention as one of the Best Places To Work in Washington DC?

Ron Shapiro, Steve Schram and Judd Lifschitz have all been selected as SuperLawyers by Law and Politics?

The SLS office building is an historic townhouse constructed in the late 1800s?

SLS has been selected by Martindale-Hubbell as a Preeminent Law Firm?

SLS trial lawyers have argued appeals in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 5th, 9th, D.C. and Federal Circuit?

SLS trial lawyers have been lead trial counsel in cases in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia, - to name just a few?

Virtually all the cases that SLS trial lawyers mediated have been favorably settled at mediation?

The transactional group at SLS was lead counsel on one of the largest, most complex mixed-use projects in downtown Washington, DC involving 4 lenders and 6 property owners?

In appreciation for the outstanding efforts of each of its employees during 2007, SLS gave everyone (attorneys, paralegals, and staff) a 4 day/3 night expense paid trip to Key West, Florida?

The transactional group at SLS has represented tenants in more than 200 retail leases in the Mid-Atlantic region?

Every attorney in the transactional group at SLS has at least 15 years experience?

The transactional group at SLS has represented developers in the purchase, construction, financing and/or sale of more than 75 multi-family apartment projects?

The transactional group at SLS has represented real estate investors and developers with respect to property in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan and the U.S. Virginia Islands?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented eight national banks in commercial real estate loans?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented the FDIC, the Resolution Trust Corporation and several banking institutions in loan workout transactions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region?

The transactional group at SLS has represented homebuilders and commercial real estate developers in work-outs of individual loans and also for work-outs of large portfolios involving dozens of properties in several states?

The trial lawyers of SLS have numerous reported decisions to their credit?