On February 2, the United States District Court in Arizona issued a decision involving the conflict between the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).  An undocumented worker brought an action under the FLSA claiming that the construction contractor in question did not pay overtime.  The federal court granted summary judgment to the employee and added liquidated damages against the contractor.  The contractor argued that under a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision, liquidated damages should not apply.  Other courts have concluded that undocumented workers may bring actions under the FLSA.  However, several courts have recognized the tension between the FLSA and the IRCA which prohibits the employment of undocumented immigrants.  Ultimately, the Arizona federal court concluded that liquidated damages should be available to unauthorized workers because the FLSA only permits courts to limit liquidated damages if the employer shows good faith.  The construction company was unable to show a good faith effort to comply with the FLSA and, therefore, lost its argument on liquidated damages.  Since liquidated damages equal the amount of the FLSA award of damages, the granting of liquidated damages can turn an already expensive federal court case into a doubly expensive case.  Construction industry employers should be aware of the fact that illegal immigrant status is not likely to provide a sufficient defense to either the FLSA award of damages or liquidated damages, as was the situation in this case.                           By Jerry Pigsley