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Employee Not Required To Divulge Immigration Status

According to the Immigrant Learning Center, 14.4% of all Massachusetts residents are immigrants. 71.7% of immigrants participate in the labor force, and the unemployment rate for foreign-born residents of Massachusetts is below that of the native population. Immigrants tend to be a little bit younger than the general population, and work in more blue-collar jobs.

We are very proud that our city is so accepting and tolerant of those who come from different countries. Since its founding, Boston has been a beacon for those seeking opportunity and we are proud that our home continues that tradition.

That is not to say that everything has been perfectly smooth concerning legal matters. Everyone who has been through the system knows how difficult it can be. Recently, there has been a major case which concerns immigration and employment.

A Massachusetts Superior Court Judge just issued a ruling that an individual employed as a roofer did not need to divulge his immigration status when he brought a lawsuit after being injured on the job.  The defense lawyers asked the plaintiff questions to determine if he was an undocumented worker, which could potentially raise issues embodied in the IRCA, the Immigration Reform and Contract Act of 1986.  However, the plaintiff’s lawyer instructed his client not to answer these questions, so the issue was brought before Judge Anthony Campo.

Even though this particular case involved Worker’s Comp, it is likely to be widely regarded as a victory for plaintiff-side employment law specialists and civil rights activists.  This decision provides much-needed protection for some of society’s most vulnerable members:  undocumented workers.

This ruling is also consistent with other Superior Court decisions that state that undocumented workers are entitled to the same protections and benefits under the Massachusetts Wage Act as any other individual.  These rulings help to deter unscrupulous companies, many times in the construction industry, from purposefully hiring undocumented workers for transactional work and then not paying any wages to these individuals.

In order to truly appreciate what this ruling could mean, it may be a good idea to look at the broader scope. The Boston Globe has reported that there are around 180,000 undocumented immigrants in the Greater Boston area. This means that our undocumented immigrant population is the 12th largest in the country.

These members of society are often incredibly exposed to mistreatment in the workplace. Undocumented workers believe that should they ask for assistance, their ability to continue living in the US may be jeopardized. This is not always the case.

Another factor that should be considered is the actions of the President. New legislation on the national level may imperil many undocumented workers’ desire to continue contributing to the American economy. This issue may be resolved, one way or another, in the upcoming months.

When you have questions about immigration status and labor, turn to John Davis. He could be your employment lawyer in Massachusetts. He is experienced, resourceful, and dedicated to you and your case. Contact us today to get started.

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