“Ghost” Workers May Be Denied Certain Rights

April 24, 2019

Philadelphia immigration lawyers help clients with immigration matters related to employment.Many well-known public companies employ contractors to perform unskilled labor as a cost-savings measure. In some cases, it has also served to shield these companies from being held accountable for using undocumented workers. A loophole in the law has enabled this situation to arise. Current immigration law requires employers to hire only those eligible to work in the U.S. It is illegal to knowingly hire workers who lack proper documentation. However, if a worker’s documentation appears to be genuine, an employer is not required to ask for further proof of eligibility to work.

Staffing agencies are responsible for collecting prospective employees’ work eligibility forms for the companies who contract for their services. Since the contracting companies do not directly hire the employees, they can deny any knowledge of whether the employees are documented. Sometimes referred to as plausible deniability, this lack of knowledge helps companies evade immigration law enforcement and employ lower-paid “ghost” workers.

Workers at Risk of Unfair Treatment

Undocumented workers often fear being discovered and hesitate raising concerns about safety, health issues, and overtime pay. Yet, sometimes the abuse is so extreme that workers will act to defend themselves. In 2011, employees cleaning Target stores in Minnesota for Diversified Maintenance Systems sued their employer for labor law violations, claiming they were being forced to work without breaks or overtime pay.

The former employees explained their ghost status. A former Diversified manager admitted in a sworn statement that hiring undocumented workers was an “unwritten official policy” of the company. According to court documents, Diversified denied the allegations and the case was settled in 2013. Target then cancelled its contract with Diversified in Minnesota but continued to keep the company on in other states.

In a more recent case, a former Diversified employee who cleaned Target stores in Brentwood, Tennessee is seeking back wages. She claims she worked seven days a week without breaks or overtime, and was paid as a “ghost” worker through a pay card marked with an ex-employee’s name. When the card stopped working, it took weeks before Diversified issued a new card marked as a DMS Employee.

The employee claims she asked a store manager at Target for help, but he told her there was nothing he could do since she worked through Diversified. Diversified maintains that it does not hire undocumented workers and blames the evasion of company rules and procedures if any undocumented workers are employed.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Help Clients With Immigration Matters Related to Employment

If you have an immigration concern, the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC can help. Call us today at 215-496-0690 or complete an online form to arrange a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.