This is my two pence on the recent firings of allegedly undocumented workers from Chipotle chains across the United States.
The law is unfortunately not on the side of the Chipotle workers. In Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., the SCOTUS held that National Labor Relations Board could not award backpay to undocumented immigrants who had never been legally authorized to work in the United States. However, there’s a more recent Second Circuit ruling in Madeira v. Affordable Housing Foundation, Inc. which held that federal immigration law did not preempt New York law allowing undocumented construction worker to recover United States earnings. If D.C. has a similar law on the books, the fired Chipotle workers may be able to win the battle in court as may Chipotle workers fired in other states.
However, this does not mean that we cannot force Chipotle to comply with fair labor practices. We should always protect the most vulnerable in society. Chipotle promised food with integrity. Where is their integrity now that they knowingly hired, exploited and then fired undocumented workers when it became convenient? We must demand Chipotle treat workers with integrity, apologize, and pay up. To be clear, no one is demanding that Chipotle hire the workers back; people are complaining about the way in which the workers were fired during their shift and unpaid for their work.
And if it is a crime to hire undocumented immigrants, then why is Chipotle not facing fines and lawsuits from DHS? In its usual hypocrisy, ICE is also not imposing charges against Chipotle. Steve Ells, CEO and Founder of Chipotle, is smiling on his way to the bank while Jose and Maria are awaiting the next low-paying, back-breaking job that would exploit their labor. That’s integrity alright.
As a side note, I may need my money back if this is the quality of burritos that Chipotle is now producing:
Americans just cannot do the work immigrants do.
- Chipotle Continues Disposal of Immigrant Workers in D.C. (news.change.org)