I have previously blogged about how a Chicago based law firm is waging a legal fight against employers who hire lots of illegal workers, calling the practice a violation of the nation’s anti-racketeering law, RICO. Well, the Mohawk Industries case was heard this week by the Supreme Court. Mohawk along with other carpet manufacturers hires large numbers of Hispanics at its Datlon, GA, operations. I’ve been there: huge, faded but well staffed buildings on one side of town; a slice of flag waving America on the other.
The Washington Times ran an article about the oral presentation before the Court.
The article says that “Winning parties in RICO cases can be awarded triple damages — notably higher awards than winners in non-racketeering criminal cases. Congress expanded RICO in 1996 to include violations of immigration law.”
The article goes on:
The group of current and former Mohawk employees say the company violated RICO by systematically contracting outside recruiting firms to hire illegals. The lawsuit says Mohawk provided identification cards to illegal aliens, which helped them avoid detection by immigration authorities. The case stalled after Mohawk filed a preliminary motion to have it dismissed, arguing that it was improperly filed under RICO on grounds the company’s activities did not constitute a racketeering “enterprise” as described by the language of the law.
Carter G. Phillips, the lawyer who represented the company yesterday, told the justices that providing ID cards to workers was part of the company’s regular personnel practices, not a racketeering enterprise. Mohawk denies knowing that it had illegal aliens on its payroll.
The high court agreed to weigh in after two lower federal courts denied Mohawk’s motion. Court observers noted the greater immigration underpinnings of the case likely will not come to the forefront until the justices decide whether to allow the case to go forward under RICO or order it to be refiled under another criminal law.