Courts Rule Alien Workers Have Rights Under FLSA

In March, 2013 Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that “there is nothing in the [Fair Labor Standards (“FLSA”)] that would allow us to conclude that undocumented aliens, although protected by the Act, are nevertheless barred from recovering unpaid wages thereunder.”  Lamonica v. Safe Hurricane Shutters, Inc.  An undocumented alien’s “ability to recover unpaid wages under the FLSA does not depend upon his immigration status.” Four months later, on July 29, 2013, another federal appellate court, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, “aliens, authorized to work or not, may recover unpaid and underpaid wages under the [Fair Labor Standards Act].”Lucas v. Jerusalem Cafe, LLC.

The United States Department of Labor’s policy was and is to enforce the FLSA “without regard to whether an employee is documented or undocumented.”

Although it is still unclear to the exact extent that these rulings will affect illegal alien workers, one thing is clear: the FLSA protects alien workers from being underpaid or unpaid.