Immigration status does not affect an employee’s ability to recover unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Evidence brought forth that would lead a juror to infer that a plaintiff was or is undocumented will likely be excluded because it is more harmful to the Plaintiff and is not relevant to the FLSA claim. Numerous circuit courts and district courts have agreed.
For example, an Illinois Magistrate Judge in the case of Kim v. Hakuya Sushi Inc. et al., 1:15-cv-03474, Doc. No. 158, July 5, 2017 recently barred this evidence in the lawsuit of an employee against his former employer. The Judge stated that “an individual’s status as an undocumented worker does not affect his or her ability to recover unpaid wages under the FLSA”, and therefore, “courts are generally in agreement that such evidence is not a proper subject of discovery and is appropriately excluded at trial.” The court noted that introduction of evidence of immigration status is irrelevant to a claim of unpaid wages, and thus, any evidence, even if solely used for impeachment purposes, would likely be too damaging to the jury’s view of the Plaintiff and should, as a result, be excluded from evidence.
This case suggests that Plaintiffs should not be fearful that evidence of their immigration status may be used against them in their lawsuit to recover unpaid wages. Employers have a duty to comply with the FLSA, regardless of immigration status.
If you feel that you are not being properly paid wages you have earned, call us for a free consultation at 1-866-411-5576. You may have a viable claim and we can help you determine the best course of action after thorough consideration of your situation.