Thursday, March 22, 2007
California Court Finds Undocumented May Sue for Prevailing Wages
The federal Immigration Reform and Control Act and the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hoffman Plastics v. NLRB prohibiting the awarding of back pay to undocumented aliens for violations of federal labor law do not preclude undocumented workers from suing an employer for failure to pay the prevailing wage rate on public works jobs, the California Court of Appeal decides (Reyes v. Van Elk Ltd., Cal. Ct. App., No. B182068, 3/14/07).
In reversing a California trial court's award of summary judgment in favor of the employer, Van Elk Ltd., the three-judge panel of the appellate court also finds that the IRCA does not preempt California statutes declaring immigration status irrelevant to claims under the state's labor and employment laws.
The appeal was brought by Jose Reyes and three other employees who performed welding-related work for Van Elk on different construction projects in Los Angeles County. The four workers filed the initial lawsuit, claiming, among other things, that Van Elk failed to pay them the prevailing wage rate required by California law on public works projects.