Thursday, July 7, 2022

Migrant Worker Awarded $650,000 in Damages After a Win in Retaliation Case

This week, a federal jury in Boston ruled that Tara Construction retaliated against a migrant worker by reporting him to immigration officials. They attempted to get him deported after getting severely injured on the job. The court awarded the man $650,000 in damages. 

José Martin Paz Flores, 42, was recovering from surgery after falling off a ladder and breaking his leg at work in 2017, when his boss at Tara Construction company invited him to the office because he wanted to give Paz money. However, minutes after Paz picked up an envelope containing $500, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested him for living in the country undocumented, all while his 2-year-old son watched. 

 In a unanimous verdict, jurors found that the US Department of Labor, which brought a civil lawsuit on Paz’s behalf, had proved that the company and its CEO, Pedro Pirez, retaliated against Paz because he reported the injury, which resulted in an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

 “The Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the act, regardless of the employee’s immigration status. This includes reporting injuries and causing an investigation or any proceeding under or related to the act. This verdict sends a strong message to employers that there will be severe consequences when they violate the law and employee rights,” said Galen Blanton, Regional Administrator of OSHA, in a statement. 

 During the opening statements, Labor Department attorney Suzanne Reilly told jurors that Tara Construction was responsible for Paz’s arrest. The company tried to get him deported because they had let their workers’ compensation insurance expire and did not want to pay him while recovering from his injury. 

 Paz was arrested for two weeks and faced deportation when the Labor Department intervened and launched an investigation. 

 “It’s a victory after a long, long fight. When workers go through difficult situations like this one, they can’t stay silent,” expressed Paz, who is now a legal resident and works.

The Boston Globe.

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