Undocumented workers who are not authorized to work in the United States are nevertheless entitled to recover unpaid wages, including overtime compensation, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mario Feliciano, Augustin Milan and seven of their co-workers sued their former employer, Safe Hurricane Shutters Inc., its president and CEO, and two directors to recover unpaid overtime compensation. The jury found in favor of the workers, and the trial court ordered the company and the individual defendants to pay damages in an amount equal to two times the lost overtime wages.
The defendants appealed, and the 11th Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision. On appeal, the defendants first argued that Milan was not entitled to recovery under the FLSA because he was an undocumented worker.
In analyzing whether an undocumented worker was entitled to recovery under the FLSA, the 11th Circuit reviewed the decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002), a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Hoffman the Supreme Court held that undocumented immigrants who are unlawfully terminated for participating in union activity are not entitled to back-pay awards. Safe Hurricane Shutters and the individual defendants argued that, based on the Hoffman decision, Milan was not entitled to damages under the FLSA because he was an undocumented worker.
The 11th Circuit disagreed and held that the Hoffman case limited the remedies available to undocumented workers under the National Labor Relations Act but did not change the broader definition of an “employee,” which includes undocumented workers. As a result, the appeals court found that the Hoffman decision did not control its ruling in the Safe Hurricane suit.
For a more details on the case, read the full article on Lexology.com
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