Damage Control: Staking Claim to Employment Law Remedies for Undocumented Immigrant Workers after Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB

39 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2015

See all articles by Elizabeth Baldwin

Elizabeth Baldwin

University of Washington School of Law

Date Written: 2003


This Note explains why the Supreme Court's decision in Hoffman threatens to do the exact opposite of what the Court intended. Specifically, while the majority's opinion purports to maintain the integrity of IRCA, it will likely undermine the Act by encouraging employers to hire undocumented workers. In addition to creating confusion, the Hoffman decision offends traditional notions of statutory construction by departing from both the text of the statute and the legislative intent. Furthermore, the holding has the de facto effect of forging a new way to investigate IRCA violations and grants employers a new defense to liability. Moreover, in effect, the holding condones employer violations of IRCA. In light of the foregoing and Hoffman's threat to immigration, labor, and employment law and policy, Congress should clarify its intent or the Court should overturn its decision.

Following this Introduction, Part II of this Note provides some background by introducing basic issues faced by undocumented immigrants in the U.S. workforce and by outlining the legal landscape pertinent to the Hoffman decision and subsequent case law. By examining memoranda and announcements from federal agencies that enforce the labor and employment laws at issue in Hoffman, Part III analyzes how lower courts and agencies have interpreted Hoffman. Part III also outlines subsequent cases, identifying principles and themes they have generated. Part IV explains why courts should continue to limit Hoffman to its facts and why the Court should overturn the case or Congress should clarify its intent. A summary and concluding remarks are presented in Part V.

Keywords: Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA), National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), undocumented immigrants, undocumented workers, backpay, remedies, unfair labor practices, administrative enforcement, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Dept of Labor, IIRIRA

Suggested Citation

Baldwin, Elizabeth, Damage Control: Staking Claim to Employment Law Remedies for Undocumented Immigrant Workers after Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB (2003). Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 233-71, 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2627884

Elizabeth Baldwin (Contact Author)

University of Washington School of Law ( email )

William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.washington.edu

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