Immigration Policy Trumps Discrimination Protections

March 27, 2002 ( -Illegal immigrants, unlike American workers, aren't entitled to back pay when they are wrongly fired from jobs in the US, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision.

The high court decided that companies shouldn’t be forced to give back pay to illegal workers when they mistreat them on the job, since, awarding such back pay runs counter to policies underlying federal immigration laws.

The National Labor Relations Board has argued that Hoffman Plastic Compounds Inc owed Mexican national, Jose Castro, an illegal worker, nearly $67,000, stating that penalties are necessary in order to keep employers from mistreating illegal workers.

Castro, who lied in order to get the job with Hoffman, was fired after trying to start a union, according to Dow Jones.

Chief Justice Rehnquist said that Hoffman Plastic Compounds can “impose significant other sanctions,” including a requirement that it prominently post a notice to employees about their rights, Dow Jones reports.

Justice Breyer said the company was guilty of “a crude and obvious” violation of the labor laws. The $67,000 penalty, he said, ” reasonably helps to deter unlawful activity that both labor laws and immigration laws seek to prevent.”

The case is Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. National Labor Relations Board, 00- 1595.