There has been a fair amount of buzz in the media about undocumented workers and fair wages for those individuals in recent months. Many Georgia employment lawyers have noticed that immigration reform is a topic of interest for many people, particularly the millions of immigrant workers who are part of the workforce in the United States. In fact, according to a MintPress news article, a three-judge panel decided that, regardless of an employee’s legal status in the United States, all employers are required to pay those workers legal wages, along with any other monies that have been promised to such workers.
The Scenario That Sparked the Judges’ Ruling?
According to the article, there were six undocumented individuals who worked for a restaurant in Missouri between the years of 2007 and 2010. Some of those individuals were not being paid minimum wage and none of them were being paid for overtime hours worked. Ultimately, the workers decided to sue the restaurant and its owners for violating the federal Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA). At the district court level, the jury found in favor of those workers, awarding them not only their wages and overtime pay, but also liquidated damages and legal fees. The restaurant owners appealed, claiming that those undocumented workers were not protected by the law.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the owners, noting that despite the fact that current immigration laws prohibit the hiring of undocumented individuals, the FLSA requires employers to pay those workers minimum wages and overtime pay. The Court further noted that employers should not benefit from hiring undocumented workers, as it would frustrate the purpose of the immigration laws.
What Does the Ruling Really Mean For Undocumented Immigrant Workers?
What it means, ultimately, is that employers will have very few defenses for not paying workers, legal or illegal, what they should be paid by law for the work performed. Georgia employment lawyers will tell you that all employers must comply with both the state and federal laws. Many employers may figure that they can hire undocumented workers without having to pay a fair wage. Some employers think they can get away with paying below minimum wage because the workers are not likely to put up much of a fuss since they are not documented.
But as the above-mentioned case shows, illegal immigrants have rights. If you are an undocumented worker who has not been paid fair wages and/or overtime for the amount of hours worked, it is crucial that you speak with a knowledgeable employment lawyer as soon as possible. Despite your status, you still have rights. If you are an employer that wants to ensure your business practices are in compliance with federal and state regulations, our firm can help. Speak with one of the Georgia employment lawyers at Mays and Kerr today to learn about employee entitlements and ensure everyone is receiving the pay that they deserve.