Attorney Cries UCL Over Undocumented Workers

Orange County attorney David Klehm this week filed the first of what he says will be many unfair competition lawsuits against employers who hire undocumented workers.

Klehm’s UCL complaint (.pdf) targets Kern County farming operation Munger Bros. and Ayala Agricultural Services, a farm labor contractor, on behalf of a competing labor contractor, Global Horizons Inc. Global claims that Munger and Ayala conspired to use illegal immigrants willing to work for substandard wages to pick a blueberry crop.

Global officials say their company suffered financially because they complied with immigration labor laws and paid their workers a significantly higher $14 an hour.

Immigration reform advocates who complain federal lawmakers aren’t doing enough to curb illegal hiring are watching this case to see whether UCLs can be used as a state-level tool to crack down on undocumented workers.

Kern County should prove an interesting venue for the case. Its conservative voters typically support law-and-order measures. But agriculture is king, and many residents may not support any effort that makes hiring farm laborers more difficult.

Cheryl Miller

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