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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Court Sanctions Employer and Attorney for Seeking Information on Employee's Immigration Status

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Judith Chirlin recently sanctioned an employer/defendant and its counsel $1,200 for seeking information related to an employee/plaintiff's immigration status.

Our clients worked at a car wash. The employer paid them $40 to $50 for a ten-hour day. After the employer ignored our pre-litigation offer to negotiate a resolution, we filed suit for wage and hour violations.

Employer's counsel propounded discovery seeking information regarding our clients' immigration status, including seeking their green cards and social security cards. We repeatedly advised counsel that such discovery is off limits in a wage and hour matter, but he persisted.

At deposition, counsel attempted to question our client regarding a resident alien card and social security card. We objected on grounds of our client's constitutional and statutory privacy rights and instructed him not to answer. Employer's counsel moved to compel our client to answer, arguing that he had the right to know whether our client was the same person shown on the cards. He also sought $1,090 in fees and costs.

The Court denied the motion, correctly holding that the employer has no right to information on our clients' immigration status. (Go here for an extensive post on this issue.) The Court held that defendant and its counsel made the motion in bad faith and ordered both to pay plaintiffs' attorney fees in the amount of $1,200.

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