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Defense Gears Up For Lawsuit Challenging The Hiring Of Illegal Immigrants Under California’s Unfair Competition Statute

California Lawsuit Follows Settlement of Class Action in Washington State Court Brought by Employees on Theory that Hiring Illegal Immigrants Reduced Wages

Molly Selvin of The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday on the California lawsuit filed by Global Horizons against Munger Bros. and two of Global’s competitors, Ayala Agricultural Services and J & A Contractors, claiming that Munger Bros. breached an agreement to hire 600 blueberry pickers through Global so that it could instead hire illegal immigrants from the competition. Ms. Selvin explains that the lawsuit is premised on California’s unfair competition laws, and appears to be the first of its kind. The lawsuit seeks to enforce immigration laws, and reflects, in the words of a law professor, “a real anger that’s out there.” If that is true, then the lawsuit could be a harbinger of things to come, as companies sue other companies alleging that the use of illegal immigrants gives them an unfair advantage. The lawsuit follows the settlement of a Washington-state court class action where employees “sued their employer for driving down wages by hiring undocumented workers.” That action settled for $1.3 million, but it was premised on federal anti-racketeering laws rather than a state unfair competition statute.

Ms. Selvin’s article, entitled “Suit Targets Hiring of Illegal Farmworkers,” may be found in the Business Section of the August 23, 2006 Los Angeles Times.