Serrano v. Underground Utilities Corp., 2009 WL 1395418 (App. Div., May 20, 2009) – In this class action suit seeking unpaid overtime compensation, prevailing wages and supplemental benefits under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act, the plaintiffs sought a protective order barring discovery inquiries into their immigration status.

The Appellate Division barred the defendants from inquiring as to the plaintiffs’ legal status as resident aliens/citizens due to possible prejudice and the potential for intimidation that may have a chilling effect on the litigants’ efforts to vindicate their legal rights. The court also noted case law in other jurisdictions holding that a plaintiff’s status as an undocumented or illegal immigrant worker does not preclude recovery under the FLSA for work already performed.