11th Circuit Court finds in Lamonica v. Safe Hurricane Shutters that undocumented workers may recover unpaid wages under FLSA despite Hoffman case

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Hurricane shutter installers filed suit against their employer, Safe Hurricane Shutters, Inc. under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  On March 11, 2013, the 11th Circuit rejected employers’ arguments that employees were wrongdoers with no work authorization and no filed tax returns. The Court, relying on its prior opinion in Patel v. Quality Inn S., 846 F.2d 700 (11th Cir. 1988) and rejecting Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002),  found that an employee’s ability to recover unpaid wages for work already performed does not depend on their immigration status. Thus, in the 11th Circuit, a worker’s undocumented status will not bar his recovery in any FLSA action. A possible interpretation here is that this ruling will level the playing field by preventing violating employers from gaining unfair competitive advantage by saving money in denying undocumented workers their lawfully earned wages.

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