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EMPLOYERS WHO UNLAWFULLY HIRE UNAUTHORIZED ALIENS MUST COMPLY WITH F.L.S.A.

By  NYC Business Immigration Lawyer Norka M. Schell
      Law Offices of Norka M. Schell, LLC
     Tel. (212)564-1589
            

United States Court of Appeals
For the Eighth Circuit

Elmer Lucas; Margarito Rodas; Gonzalo Leal; Feliciano Macario; Bernabe
Villavicencio; Esvin Lucas
Plaintiffs - Appellees
v.
Jerusalem Cafe, LLC; Farid Azzeh, Individually; Adel Alazzeh, Individually and as
successor in interest to Jerusalem Cafe LLC, doing business as Jerusalem Cafe, LLC
Defendants - Appellants

In above matter, the 8th Circuit holds that aliens, authorized to work or not, may recover unpaid and underpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (F.L.S.A.), 29 U.S.C. 201. 

From June 2007 to March 2010, Elmer Lucas, Feliciano Macario, Gonzalo Leal, Esvin Lucas, Margarito Rodas, and Benabe Villavicencio worked without employment authorization, in the Jerusalem Cafe, some for less than minimum wage and all without receiving overtime wages. 

The six workers sued the Jerusalem Cafe, and its then-owner Farid Azzeh and manager Adel Alazzeh for willfully violating the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (F.L.S.A.), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.. 

The following is the lists of the jury’s findings as to the workers’ weekly hours, wages, and effective hourly wages during the period at issue in this matter: 

1. Feliciano Macario worked from January 2008 to January 2010 77 hours per week and received $300.00 per week. The effective wage was $3.90 per hour. 

2. Gonzalo Leal worked from January 2008 to January 2010 77 hours per week and received $420.00 per week. The effective wage was $5.45 per hour.  From September 2008 to March 2010, he worked 77 hours per week and received $500.00 per week. The effective wage was $6.49 per hour.

3. Elmer Lucas worked from June 2007 to March 2008 77 per week and  received $360.00 per week. The effective wage was $4.68 per hour. From March 2008 to September 2008 he worked 77 hours per week and received $480.00 per week. The effective wage was $6.23. From September 2008 to September 2009 he worked 77 per week and received $640.00 per week. The effective wage was $8.31 per hour. From  September 2009 to March 2010 he worked  77 per week and received $560.00 per week. The effective wage was  $7.27 per hour. 

4. Esvin Lucas worked from  June 2007 to January 2010 66 hours per week and received $550.00 per week. The effective wage was $8.33 per week. From January 2010 to March 2010 he worked 60 per week and received $500.00 per week. The effective wage was $8.33 per hour. 

5. Margarito Rodas worked from June 2007 to September 2008 77 hours per week and received $420.00 per week. The effective wage was $5.45 per week.  From September 2008 to March 2010, he worked 77 per week and received $500.00 per week. The effective wage was $6.49 per hour. 

6. Bernabe Villavicencio worked from June 2007 to July 2009 77 per week and received $800.00 per week.  The effective wage was $10.39 per week.  From July 2009 to March 2010, he worked 77 hours per week and received $700.00 per week. The effective wage was $9.09 per hour. 

After the jury decided in the workers’ favor, the district court awarded  $141,864.04 in actual damages for unpaid F.L.S.A wages; $141,864.04 in liquidated damages based on jury's finding the employers willfully failed to pay F.L.S. A. wages; $150,627.00 in legal fees, and $6,561.63 in expenses. 

The employers appeal, contending the F.L.S.A. does not apply to employers who illegally hire unauthorized aliens.  

The Appellant Court reviewed the case.  In exercising its jurisdiction under  28 U.S.C. § 1291, it affirms the district court's decision with regards the workers minimum and overtime wages, statutory liquidated damages, and legal fees. The holding is "the F.L.S.A. does not allow employers to exploit any employee’s immigration status or to profit from hiring unauthorized aliens in violation of federal law." 

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