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Workers fired unjustly. Is there anything they can do?

Roseville, CA |

There's a group of workers who worked for a company in a Casino in my town. Since this is a tourist town the company (not affiliated with the casino) fired this workers. Most of them have unknown legal status or are known to be illegal immigrants, but have worked for this company 15 years or more each. The secretary of the company decided to tell them to leave or she would call immigration on them. Every single one of them pays taxes The secretary just decided she didn't want them to work anymore so she did this unfairly. None of them are looking to get their job back but I still feel that maybe there is something that can be done for them. Please any advice? I know a lot of you look at illegal immigrants like they don't matter but this was just ridiculously unfair

Attorney Answers 3


California's labor laws apply to all workers regardless of their legal status. California is an at will state, so employees may terminate their employees for any reason or no reason at all. Generally, the only exceptions are for employees that have an agreement that alters this presumption or are a member of a union. From the information you provided it doesn't appear that there is a violation. However, now is the time to have an attorney evaluate the employers practices to determine if the workers were truly treated fairly. I have experience representing undocumented workers. Please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

Law Offices of Linh T. Nguyen 916.509.7200 Disclaimer: This reply is not intended to be and does not constitute legal advice or the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. I always recommend consulting with an attorney, especially since many attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations.

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It is not a question about how undocumented workers are viewed, it is a matter of what kind of damages they can sue for. The fact of the matter is, if a worker is undocumented, they should not have been employed in the U.S. in the first place. They have no legal status as an employee. Therefore, regardless of the reason for which they are fired, they cannot sue for loss of wages or emotional distress for the loss of a job they should not have held in the first place.

It is true that employers must obey labor laws, even for undocumented workers, while they are employed. Many employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers, take advantage of them and fail to pay them correctly or allow the mandated breaks. We often find there are labor law violations with these employers. If so, the employee is entitled to be paid according to the law for wages they have earned. However, our courts have held that undocumented workers may not sue for damages resulting from their termination.

If there were some legal violations during the course of their employment, a review by an employment law attorney may identify some remedies. But the termination, in and of itself is without recourse.

They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.

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Many employee rights attorneys' council undocumented workers, especially for workers compensation cases and unpaid wage cases. In these cases, immigration status is not an issue and is not even discussed in the lawsuit.

Best regards,

David A. Mallen

David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific advice regarding your legal question, you should consult an attorney confidentially. Many experienced California labor and employment attorneys, including David A. Mallen offer no-risk legal consultations to employers and employees at no charge. David A. Mallen is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, as well as the California Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Failure to take legal action within the time periods prescribed by law could result in the loss of important legal rights and remedies.

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