Supreme Court Defers Illegal Worker Case Back to Appeals Court

June 5, 2006 ( - The US Supreme Court dismissed Monday a case on whether a Georgia carpet and floor-covering maker could be sued under federal anti-racketeering law for allegedly recruiting illegal immigrants.

The high court said the appeal should never have been granted, and sent the case back to the appeals level in order to resolve minor issues.

Current and former employees of Mohawk Industries Inc. filed the suit in January 2004 under federal and state racketeering statutes, alleging that the company recruited and employed illegal aliens with the intent of shrinking the salaries of legal employees (See Supreme Court to Hear Case on Alien Recruiting).

The plaintiffs claimed that Mohawk conspired with recruiting agencies to hire and harbor illegal aliens to keep labor costs down. Tactics included Mohawk employees going to the Mexican border to lure incoming immigrants to work for the company in Georgia. And upon employment, Mohawk allegedly provided them with housing.

The plaintiffs claimed that Mohawk made incentive payments to employees and outside recruiters to locate the workers it eventually employed.  According to the complaint, Mohawk employees sometimes assisted the recruiters by carrying a supply of bogus Social Security cards for use when a prospective or existing employee needed to assume a new identity.

The suit further alleged that Mohawk destroyed documents in an effort to veil from law enforcement its recruiting and harboring of illegal aliens. The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals stated that these alleged actions would violate several aspects of US immigration laws.

The district court ruled that the plaintiffs stated a viable claim under the federal and Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) acts. The appellate court agreed, allowing a major racketeering case alleging intentional and systematic violation of the immigration laws by a large employer, to be pursued.

The justices also set aside a US appeals court ruling that Mohawk and the recruiters can constitute an “enterprise” within the meaning of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.