On November 12, 2008, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department, expanded the New York Court of Appeals’ decision in Balbuena v. IDR Realty, 6 N.Y.3d 338, 812 N.Y.S.2d 416 (2006). Balbuena held that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. N.L.R.B., which reversed an award of back-pay to an undocumented immigrant who submitted fraudulent papers upon his hiring, did not preempt worker protections under New York law.
In Coque v. Wildflower Estates Developers, Inc., 58 A.D.3d 44, 867 N.Y.S.2d 158 (2d Dep’t 2008), the defendant sought to overturn a jury’s award of back pay in light of Hoffman Plastic Compounds because plaintiff submitted a false social security card when he was hired. The Second Department ruled that because the employer failed to verify the plaintiff’s social security card, as required under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, the plaintiff was entitled to damages for lost wages. The court reasoned that an employer should not be relieved of liability, and thus rewarded, for its failure to comply with federal immigration laws.