Undocumented Workers May Sue to Recover Unpaid Wages Under FLSA (Federal Wage and Hour Law).

In a March 2013 decision of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, the court rejected arguments of a hurricane shutter company that 7 undocumented workers were not entitled to recover unpaid overtime compensation based merely on their status as “undocumented”.   To the contrary, the court held that undocumented workers were covered as “employees” under the FLSA and, therefore, were entitled to damages in an amount equal to twice their unpaid wages. The court also rejected arguments that the workers could not recover based on their own failure to report income to IRS and their use of false Social Security numbers; the court reasoned that the workers did not actively participate in the particular unlawful activity at issue in the lawsuit. Also noteworthy, the court held that two of the company’s directors were liable as individuals even though they were not officers of the company because the directors exercised “sufficient operational control” over day-to-day operations for such liability.

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