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DECISIONS Young’s e-mail address is gyoungnlj.com. a human resources administrator who was fired after disobeying orders to allow employees to prove they had proper work visas has no cause of action for retaliatory discharge, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held on June 25. Arres v. IMI Cornelius Remcor, Inc., No. 02-3374. A company learned that 10% of its employees’ W-2 forms showed names or numbers that disagreed with federal records. On advice of the Social Security Administration and counsel, the company sent letters to each implicated employee asking for correction of any errors. A supervisor instructed the HR administrator to process the employees’ responses, but she refused, claiming that doing so would violate an Illinois public policy against employment of aliens with improper work visas who furnished fraudulent information. She was fired. Subsequently, she sued the company alleging, among other things, retaliation against her for following federal immigration law-an action that violates Illinois law. An Illinois district court granted summary judgment to the company. The claimant appealed only from the retaliatory discharge ruling. The 7th Circuit disagreed with the district court’s holding that the existence of a federal anti-retaliation rule, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(5), foreclosed any Illinois state remedy. The availability of a federal remedy does not automatically preclude a state retaliatory-discharge claim. Regardless, the Circuit Court concluded that the structure of the federal laws relied upon did not provide the administrator with a legal footing for her claim. The company had done exactly what the Social Security Administration and its legal counsel suggested: Before firing anyone, it tried to separate those who had made inadvertent errors from those who are not entitled to work in the United States. “A human resources manager is not free to impose a different approach unilaterally; that’s nothing but insubordination. Imagine the disruption in workplaces everywhere if every person were legally privileged to act (or not act) based on her own view of what the law (federal or state) requires, and managers were helpless to do anything in response,” the court stated. Therefore, summary judgment in the employer’s favor was affirmed.

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