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Undocumented workers’ best witnesses may be other undocumented workers

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Former employees who are un­­documented or illegal immigrants and claim they have been discriminated against based on their country of origin can sue, even if the em­­­­ployees they are comparing themselves to are also undocumented.

Recent case: Tsewang, who is of Tibetan ethnicity and origin, was terminated from his job with New Metro Trucking. He and fellow Tibetan Nawang both sued the company, alleging among other claims that they were discriminated against by their Chinese employer in favor of Chinese co-workers.

Those workers, who had also illegally entered the United States, allegedly were treated better, re­­ceiving higher wages and food and lodging allowances.

The court said Tsewang’s and Nawang’s claims could go to trial. Neither their illegal status nor that of the comparison employees was grounds to dismiss their case. (Gyamtso, et al., v. New Metro Truck­­ing Cor­­por­­ation, No. 11-3457, DC MN, 2013)

Final note: The Tibetans also tried to use the Racketeering Influ­­enced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to establish that the trucking company had engaged in racketeering.

They argued that the trucking company allegedly conspired to import undocumented workers and aid their illegal entry in order to pay them depressed wages.

The court tossed out that claim, but only because the plaintiffs couldn’t prove at least 10 workers had been brought into the country illegally. (That objection, in effect, showed how other undocumented workers might prove such a case.)

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