Approximately 10% of the federal court civil docket in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York is currently comprised of wage theft cases arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Of these cases, many plaintiffs are undocumented workers seeking to vindicate their rights to minimum wage and overtime pay. These workers are protected by state and federal wage theft laws, regardless of their immigration status.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) made it illegal for employers to knowingly employ undocumented workers and established an employment verification system that employers must follow to verify the identity of potential employees and confirm that they are authorized to work in the United States. If an employer hires someone that is known to be undocumented or allows an employee to continue working after learning the person is undocumented, the employer is in violation of IRCA. In reality, however, many employers do not follow IRCA and continue to employ workers that they know are undocumented.

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