In Pennsylvania, laid off employees who aren’t legally documented to work in the United States aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation payments.
Therefore, if you discover that an employee isn’t authorized to work, you don’t have to worry that firing him or her will mean you’ll have to pony up for unemployment benefits.
Recent case: Libardo Ruiz immigrated to the United States 14 years ago and settled in Pennsylvania. He obtained a green card, which authorized him to work here. For a while, he moved to Texas to take a temporary job. He quit that job to return to Pennsylvania and be with his pregnant girlfriend.
Once back, he filed for unemployment, claiming he had a good reason to quit his Texas job and come to Pennsylvania. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services didn’t renew his green card.
The Commonwealth Court denied his request for unemployment benefits, concluding that he wasn’t “ready and available for work” since he couldn’t legally work in the country. The court said it was bound by federal immigration law, which prohibits those without a valid green card from working. If he couldn’t work, he couldn’t get benefits. (Ruiz v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 1343 CD 2006, Commonwealth Court, 2006)
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