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Hazleton’s illegal-immigrant law overturned: Federal law prevails–for now

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

One of the hardest parts of the HR profession is having to deal with the many levels of employment law. Once you’ve mastered federal laws such as the ADA, FMLA and other discrimination statutes, you have to learn about state laws. Sometimes cities and municipalities get in on the act, too, passing their own versions of anti-discrimination or employment laws.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals appears poised to limit some of the laws, especially when they contradict or step on federal laws already in place.

Recent case: The city of Hazleton enacted local ordinances that attempted to regulate employment of undocumented immigrants. For example, the employment ordinance made it illegal for employers to hire or in any way use the labor of those who do not have legal authority to live or work in the United States. The ordinance allowed citizens to complain to local authorities if they believed an employer was using unauthorized individuals to perform work.

Immigrant rights groups sued.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ordinances, reasoning that the federal government has the sole authority to oversee illegal immigration. (Lozano v. City of Hazleton, No. 07-3531, 3rd Cir., 2010)

Final note: The case is widely expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, given that the court has accepted a similar case from the 9th Circuit. Time will tell whether employers will end up with just one set of immigration laws to follow.

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