Recently, an employee filed suit against his employer in state court. In what is now being considered retaliation, the employer’s attorney contacted ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to have the plaintiff removed from the United States at his deposition.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a retaliation claim can be made against any person regardless of whether the action is directly from the employer as long as the person is acting in the employer’s interest.
Here is what we know about the case:
The plaintiff, Jose Arnulfo Arias, began working for Angelo Dairy in California in 1995. When Arias was hired, the form regarding his employment eligibility in the US (I9) was not completed. the Angelos used Arias’ illegal employment status in the US to manipulate him. When Arias informed the Angelos that he was offered another position at another dairy, they threatened to report him to federal authorities. Arias continued his employment with the Angelos for fear of being deported.
In 2006, Arias sued Angelo Dairy for a multitude of workplace violations including refusing to pay overtime, rest, or meal periods. The California Superior Court set a trial date on August 15, 2011.
Ten weeks prior to the start of the trial date, Anthony Raimondo, the Angelos’ attorney, contacted ICE so that they would remove Arias from the US, a plan that would single handedly derail Arias’ lawsuit. When Arias became aware of the deportation conspiracy against him, he began to suffer from anxiety, mental anguish, and other emotional distress— fearing that he would be separated from his family.
It seems that Raimondo has assisted with at least five deportations in the same manner. He reaches out to ICE on behalf of the employers he is representing, turning in employees who have asserted their workplace rights.
So does this mean that Raimondo can be sued for retaliation, even though he never actually employed Arias? Yes. “Congress made it illegal for any person, not just an employer, to retaliate against any employee for reporting conduct under or related to violations of the federal minimum wage or maximum hour laws, whether or not the employer’s conduct does in fact violate those laws.”
How offensive do you consider the attorney’s conduct? How much do you think the attorney should be liable for his actions?
*photo by Jenny Hill
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