By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law


American Elite Molding LLC (AEM), a manufacturer based in Crestview, Florida, is suing a competitor, Advanced Cable Ties Inc. (ACT), for employing undocumented workers, through Twin City Temporaries, Inc., at a Gardner, Massachusetts, plant.

The lawsuit, filed in Okaloosa County Circuit Court, Florida, is seeking unspecified monetary damages stemming from ACT's alleged use of workers who are not eligible to work in the United States. It specifically states the company has lost contracts and had to lower its prices as a result of ACT's alleged labor practices. AEM categorizes these actions by ACT as unfair competition.

AEM CEO Bob Sires said about 60 percent of ACT's labor force - almost all the night workers and some of the day workers are undocumented workers supplied by Twin City Temporaries, which is based in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He further claims Twin City Temporaries brings in workers from Vietnam and other countries and pays them under the table to avoid taxes and payroll costs.

Sires said Twin City Temporaries approached him a year to a year-and-a-half ago and proposed a similar arrangement with AEM, claiming it could help cut labor costs. AEM rejected this arrangement. Sires claims after this, he realized AEM started losing a couple of clients' accounts to ACT, after ACT began using Twin City Temporaries.

"ACT misleads the relevant marketplace by disingenuously attempting to convey a wholesome image of its workforce where, in reality ... over sixty percent of ACT's workforce is ineligible to work in the United States," the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also claims that AEM hires only legal workers and pays them in accordance with applicable labor laws.

This lawsuit is extremely unusual and is a new twist on what employers, which employ undocumented workers, must fear. I wonder if Immigration & Customs Enforcement reads the newspaper and serves a Notice of Inspection on ACT. I will keep you informed on this lawsuit.

For answers to many other questions related to immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.