New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Cases Where Labor Law and Immigration Law Both Apply

Author: NY Law Firm of Alena Shautsova

Deciding certain cases may require the court to determine the weight of immigration law versus employment law. This is what happened in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002), a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court for final decision.

The case involved an undocumented immigrant, named Jose Castro who had entered the United States illegally and provided false papers, including a birth certificate from a friend born in Texas, so he could obtain work for Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. Castro's action violated the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which penalizes workers who work illegally in the United States and companies as well if they knowingly employ illegal workers. In this situation, the company thought Jose's work papers were valid. However, the company was not without its own legal violations and laid Jose Castro off because of his union organizing participation which involved handing out fliers and campaign cards. Retaliating against employees for union organization efforts violated the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA), a law that protects employees working towards unionization.

Castro brought a case against Hoffman for denying payment of his back wages. When pursuing the case in court, Castro had to disclose his illegal status, which made his case an interesting conflict of laws.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to deny Castro his back pay because illegal immigrants without work authorization have no right to pay based on the IRCA. In this case, the IRCA took precedence over the NLRA.

If you have immigration or employment issues, the Law Office of Alena Shautsova can help through its legal services as both an employment and immigration law firm. Legal representation from a New York immigration lawyer or employment attorney can help protect your rights.

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