Circuit Court Rules Employers Cannot Terminate Employers Solely
on No-Match Letters
In an interpretation of the federal Immigration Reform and Control
Act (IRCA), the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that
employers cannot terminate an employee solely on the basis of unresolved,
no-match letters from the Social Security Administration. The ruling
also raises legal questions for the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security's recent rulemakings that interpret the IRCA as saying
employers must terminate the employment of anyone who has unresolved
The case arose from a grievance brought by the Service Employees
International Union on behalf of 33 employees in Los Angels who
were terminated because they could not adequately resolve no-match
letters. But the court stated that since there could be multiple
causes for a mismatch, such as data entry errors and name changes,
a mismatch alone is not proof that an employee is not authorized
to work in the United States.
The ruling may also mean that contract glazing companies, depending
on where they are located, will need to re-evaluate their termination
policies. Illinois, for example, considers all employees as "at
will employees" and since field personnel are hired through
a union employers are not required to give any explanation for a
"This ruling is just another issue for owners to contend with
that creates additional risks and liabilities," says Robyn
McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of Sierra Glass
& Mirror in Las Vegas. "If you employ someone who does
not provide proper legal documentation ensuring the income and social
security taxes are being paid to the government on their behalf,
you are breaking the law, yet if you terminate someone for not providing
proper documentation to prove this, you are opening yourself up
to a cause of action against you by the individual who failed to
provide this information. It is a contradiction in every way and
once again puts owners at additional risk in an already high-risk
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