We've Reached The Front Lines In The Immigration Debate - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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We've Reached The Front Lines In The Immigration Debate

Immigrants Sue Employer for Back Wages - Forbes.com

We knew it would come down to this. Illegal immigrants are suing for back wages from their exploitative employers. This is probably the eventuality such employers presumed would never come to pass, which is why the issue of immigrant labor has been able to fester for so long. It will be very interesting to see how the courts of law interpret such a challenge.

What sucks is that you can't really get behind either camp and feel good about it.

Associated Press
Immigrants Sue Employer for Back Wages
By MARYCLAIRE DALE 05.30.07, 3:25 PM ET

Illegal immigrants who worked long shifts scrubbing theme restaurants for an indicted janitorial firm have signed their names to a lawsuit seeking unpaid wages.

Some of the plaintiffs were rounded up in federal workplace raids in February and deported before receiving their final paychecks, the suit charges. Others said they worked 80- or 100-hour weeks without earning overtime pay or even the prevailing minimum wage.

"People should be aware of the kinds of exploitative situations that are happening out there, in particular with immigrant workers," said lawyer Nadia Hewka of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, who helped file the federal suit. "Someone who worked 80 hours a week should get paid fairly for those hours, no matter their immigration status."

The 14 plaintiffs - most from Mexico - worked for Rosenbaum-Cunningham International Inc., a Palm Beach, Fla.-based janitorial contractor. In Philadelphia, the company placed workers in Dave & Buster's Inc., the restaurant chain that has a popular waterfront outpost in the city.

Other immigrants who worked in restaurants in Pittsburgh, New York, Anaheim, Calif. and elsewhere are expected to join the suit as early as this week.

They plan to seek class-action status, but would have to try to recover any judgment they might win from the government, which has seized the shuttered firm's assets, lawyer Justin Mixon said.

Rosenbaum-Cunningham and three top executives were indicted this year in Michigan on federal charges they harbored illegal immigrants for profit and failed to pay the federal government more than $18 million in employment taxes. The charges are still pending.

The immigrants say they worked as many as 110 hours a week cleaning kitchens, washing floors and scrubbing toilets. Many were locked in at their work sites and most put in 11-hour days, seven days a week without breaks, their lawyers said.

They typically earned less than the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour or the higher minimum wage in Pennsylvania and other states where they worked, the suit charges.

The attorneys are trying to reach the approximately 200 immigrants detained in the February raids, which targeted 63 restaurants in 18 states that used Rosenbaum-Cunningham workers. The restaurants included the Hard Rock Cafe, House of Blues, ESPN Zone and Planet Hollywood.

"Some of our clients were deported, some left voluntarily and some were not picked up at all," Hewka said. "The challenge right now is finding them."

No lawyer has yet registered to represent Rosenbaum-Cunningham in the civil case, according to court records.

Shannon D. Farmer, a lawyer representing Dave & Buster's, said she could not immediately comment on the suit.

RCI co-owners Richard M. Rosenbaum and Edward Scott Cunningham and firm controller Christina Flocken face criminal fraud, immigration and tax charges in the 23-count indictment.

Their workers may not have known about U.S. overtime laws or may not have had the energy to fight for the money they were owed, Mixon said.

"You're aware people are taking advantage of you. You're just trying to feed your kids," he said. "Unfortunately - even the American public - a lot of people don't understand overtime."
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 11:57 AM
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This is the one issue on which I struggle most as, like you say, there are no clear-cut answers. The easiest way out would be to take a black/white stand on the issue and hold ground no matter what but immigration does not allow that simple answer to occur.

I do think that that is a great wrong for any employer to exploit workers by paying them substandard wages, sans benefits and without the protections of employment laws [such as overtime] and cannot under any circumstance see the business rationale that business must do this thing to remain competitive. It is a bogus argument, and one that puts has put business and government in a duplicitous conspiracy in order to keep cheap labor in the country – no matter that it is illegal and a form of slavery.

It also puts undocumented aliens in a clearly illegal position of coming to the country without permission, without rights and without a legal basis on which to stay. With our government’s weak to nonexistent enforcement of existing laws over the past years we have, as a country given tacit approval to the process.

This case will indeed prove interesting.

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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 12:19 PM
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Good points Bear but I say throw the book at the employer caught and make him pay the back wages the over time and punitve damages and then throw his ass in jail for 2 years. But then ship the illegals back and tell them if caught again they get thrown in jail as well.
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 12:42 PM
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Good points Bear but I say throw the book at the employer caught and make him pay the back wages the over time and punitve damages and then throw his ass in jail for 2 years. But then ship the illegals back and tell them if caught again they get thrown in jail as well.
I have always thought that the best leverage to stop the primary problems with illegal immigration is to target the businesses that hire them. They know they are doing wrong. They are doing it intentionally and they do so with specific efforts to circumvent the law. Put a stop to that with existing INS and IRS laws and much of the problems would cease to exist. Apparently our Government does not have the will to enforce those laws.

In my daily travel from home to shop [12 miles] I pass construction sites and horse farms on which I see nothing but Latino labor in the hundreds. Historical evidence has shown that the great majority are not documented yet they work daily without fear of INS.

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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 12:57 PM
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I have always thought that the best leverage to stop the primary problems with illegal immigration is to target the businesses that hire them. They know they are doing wrong. They are doing it intentionally and they do so with specific efforts to circumvent the law. Put a stop to that with existing INS and IRS laws and much of the problems would cease to exist. Apparently our Government does not have the will to enforce those laws.

In my daily travel from home to shop [12 miles] I pass construction sites and horse farms on which I see nothing but Latino labor in the hundreds. Historical evidence has shown that the great majority are not documented yet they work daily without fear of INS.
Well Bear you know when you decimate the production jobs for US citizens you have to replace it with a cheap and illegal service industry for jobs americans will not take.
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 01:23 PM
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Well Bear you know when you decimate the production jobs for US citizens you have to replace it with a cheap and illegal service industry for jobs americans will not take.
I keep hearing that.

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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakarta Expat
Good points Bear but I say throw the book at the employer caught and make him pay the back wages the over time and punitve damages and then throw his ass in jail for 2 years. But then ship the illegals back and tell them if caught again they get thrown in jail as well.
Perfectly said. Remove the incentive, and they will stop coming. 12 million of them here is too many, don't you think. Hard to send money back home to the mother country if you are in jail.

Class action suit for the illegals is something, their lawyers will be licking their chops, tasting a passport to the Elysian Fields over this one.

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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 02:17 PM
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Well Bear you know when you decimate the production jobs for US citizens you have to replace it with a cheap and illegal service industry for jobs americans will not take.
Take at what wage?

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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 02:28 PM
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Take at what wage?
Well that is the question now isn;t it but things but mostly attitude has changed in the US since I lived there. Seems alot more keeping up with the Jones and materialistic attitude than it once was and work ethics has certainly suffered due to it.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-31-2007, 03:57 PM
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Gotta love this country! Illegals can come, work, and sue the govt while they're here illegally. What are they thinking? they expect to get fair pay when they're here illegally?? This should really be a wake up call for those would-be employers who are thinking about hiring illegal immigrants.

Oh yea to make it even better... those that came illegally and became successful are doing this country harm by encouraging more illegals (primarily latinos) to come illegally to achieve what they've done. I see this way too often among hispanics. Their sole purpose, it seems, is not on helping illegal aliens in general including other races but illegal LATINOS.

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Last edited by legendtype2; 05-31-2007 at 04:03 PM.
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