Monday, June 07, 2004

Federal Court OKs Suit Against Tyson for Hiring Illegal Aliens

Federal Court OKs Suit Against Tyson for Hiring Illegal Aliens

Federal Court OKs Suit Against Tyson for Hiring Illegal Aliens
Monday June 7, 11:58 am ET

WASHINGTON, June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A lawsuit by former employees of Tyson Foods, Inc. against their employer may go ahead, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday. The four former workers are seeking damages as a result of Tyson's use of illegal aliens to depress wages. They sued the company under a provision of a 1996 law that made the intentional employment of illegal aliens for financial gain a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
The 6th Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that denied the workers the opportunity to seek damages from Tyson under the RICO Act. The 1996 Immigration Act allowed private citizens to sue employers for the intentional employment of illegal aliens to undercut the wages of American workers. The 6th Circuit said that U.S. workers had the right to sue under RICO even if their place of work was represented by a labor union.

In 2001 the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) subsidized the first litigation under the RICO statute on behalf of a Connecticut cleaning company that had been damaged as a result of a competitor's employment of low-wage illegal aliens. Howard Foster, a Chicago-based attorney who represented the workers in the Connecticut case, also represents the four workers who used to work at Tyson's Shelbyville, Tennessee poultry processing plant.

"We are delighted by the 6th Circuit's ruling, and we congratulate Howard Foster and his clients for the important stand they are taking on behalf of all American workers," said Dan Stein, executive director of FAIR. "The ability for workers to seek redress when employers systematically and knowingly hire illegal aliens in order to depress wages is precisely what Congress had in mind when it expanded the RICO law to include these sorts of offenses.

"The motivation of employers to hire illegal alien workers is an economic one. In the face of the government's and even their own union's unwillingness to enforce our immigration laws, workers need to be able to protect themselves," continued Stein. "The right of damaged workers to sue under RICO and collect treble damages is a case of the punishment fitting the crime."

FAIR advocated for inclusion of RICO protections in the 1996 law. "There are still many hurdles for the plaintiffs in this case to overcome," noted Stein. "But as long as the government and the unions will not defend American workers whose livelihoods are undercut by the use of illegal alien labor, we expect that the workers themselves will increasingly use this provision of the law to protect their jobs."

Source: Federation for American Immigration Reform


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