According to the Associated Press, once the discovery was made, Wendy’s was forced by law to fire the employees because of their illegal status. Immigrants in the program would have been insulated from being fired.
The immigrants, who worked for Cafe Express, are seeking unspecified damages.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in state district court in Houston, is a companion to a similar class-action suit filed last month in Dallas against Wendy’s, its subsidiary Cafe Express and the Houston-based business law firm Boyar & Miller. Between the two lawsuits, 40 illegal immigrants say they were fired after the company recently found that Boyar & Miller, a law firm that had been hired by Wendy’s, never filed paperwork for a 2001 legalization program that allowed immigrants with employer sponsorship or an American spouse to apply for citizenship, according to the AP.
Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini called it an “extremely unfortunate situation” due to “the mistakes made by others” that began before his company acquired Cafe Express.
Both entities “had no idea these applications were not filed on time until late this summer,” Bertini said, according to the report. “Unfortunately, our hands are tied.”
Wendy’s and Cafe Express say the number of immigrants affected statewide is 22 – 16 who were fired, and six who left on their own after hearing the news. However, attorneys for the immigrants estimate that the number is closer to 100, even though only 40 are named in the suits.