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Illegal workers: Are they entitled to sue?

Aug. 31, 2009 at 11:24 AM   |   Comments

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed in Las Vegas claims illegal immigrants are entitled to back wages, a legal point as yet unsettled, a prominent law professor said.

"The door is not shut until the Supreme Court shuts it," said William Gould, former chairman and professor emeritus at Stanford Law School said.

In Las Vegas, illegal workers have filled suit against Bravo Pro Maintenance, a cleaning company that workers say cheated them of wages and demanded 13-hour work days without paying overtime, the Las Vegas Sun reported Monday.

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard a case brought by an illegal immigrant, ruling in 2002 that the right to participate in union activity could "encourage … evasion of apprehension by immigration authorities."

However, lower courts have so far leaned in favor of granting illegal workers the right to sue under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the newspaper reported.

To have no law protecting illegal workers, ""would open the door to crazy exploitation," said Ruth Milkman, director of the Institute of Industrial Relations at University of California, Los Angeles.

Having no legal protection for illegal workers is an invitation to "create slavery," Gould said.

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