EEOC Won't Seek Back pay for Undocumented Workers

July 3, 2002 ( - Conforming to a recent US Supreme Court case, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said it wouldn't process discrimination claims from undocumented workers asking for back pay and reinstatement.

Even with the move, prompted by a March ruling by the nation’s high court, the EEOC said it would still routinely handle undocumented worker discrimination claims seeking relief other than back pay and reinstatement.

Justices ruled in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board that federal immigration policy bars a back pay award to an undocumented worker under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

“I hope this guidance will be a reminder that discrimination based on national origin is inappropriate and that the Hoffman case doesn’t give employers carte blanche to do whatever they want with regard to undocumented workers,” said attorney Paul Zulkie, second vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The EEOC also voted unanimously to rescind its 1999 Guidance on Remedies Available to Undocumented Workers Under Federal Employment Discrimination Laws -an action necessitated by the Hoffman decision.

The rescission notice states that the EEOC will seek appropriate relief consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hoffman, but will not, on its own initiative, inquire into a worker’s immigration status or consider an individual’s immigration status when examining the underlying merits of a charge.