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Courts Block Use of Immigration Status as Evidence August 14, 2017

Financial District, Manhattan
Courts Block Use of Immigration Status as Evidence, Manhattan, New York

The principle that everyone deserves equal access to justice is a cornerstone of the American legal system. To ensure undocumented workers are not unfairly discriminated against, U.S. courts have traditionally barred an individual’s immigration status from being presented in court. In fact, according to an Illinois district judge, failing to do so could work against current immigration law by encouraging employers to hire undocumented workers, who can then be taken advantage of.

In Kim v. Hakuya Sushi Inc. et al., U.S. Magistrate Sheila Finnegan ruled that the defendants facing a claim for unpaid wages cannot use the plaintiff’s immigration status against them. Doing so, the judge reasoned, would erode the protections afforded by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which apply to all workers in the United States.

immigration lawAllowing employers to have unpaid wages suits dismissed by invoking the defendant’s immigration status would provide a powerful incentive for hiring individuals without work authorization. Not only does this decision enforce the protection provided by the FLSA, it also advances the aims of current immigration law, which seeks to discourage employers from hiring undocumented workers.

An individual’s immigration status is also barred in a variety of legal disputes, including Title VII discrimination suits. While an individual’s immigration status may impact their credibility, many U.S. courts have determined the risk of harassment and intimidation is too great. Some courts have openly endorsed proposed rules that bar a person’s immigration status from discovery in almost any civil or criminal case, unless it’s directly relevant to the case.


The NYC immigration attorneys at Berd & Klauss, PLLC pride themselves on providing high-quality services, informed by the most recent changes and developments to the complex U.S. immigration system. Visit their website for an overview of Attorneys Alex Berd and Patrick Klauss’ backgrounds and services, follow their Facebook for more immigration law updates, or call (212) 461-7152 for a consultation today.

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