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Aramark Facility Services v. Service Employees International Union

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
530 F.3d 817 (9th Cir. 2008)


Aramark Facility Services (Aramark) (defendant) provided labor for the Staples Center. In 2003, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent Aramark no-match letters indicating that the social security numbers for 48 employees at the Staples Center did not match the numbers in the SSA’s database. The SSA routinely issued no-match letters to inform employees who would not be properly credited for their social-security earnings. The SSA also routinely issued no-match letters for a number of other reasons, including unauthorized employment of noncitizens, typographical errors, and inaccurate completion of employment records. Aramark suspected that the no-match letters were due to immigration violations by Aramark’s employees. Consequentially, Aramark required the named employees to provide proof within three days that the employees had begun the process of applying for a new social security card. About a week later, Aramark dismissed 33 employees who had failed to provide such proof. Local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (plaintiff) filed a grievance on behalf of the 33 dismissed employees, arguing that the employees had been dismissed without cause in violation of the employees’ collective-bargaining agreement. An arbitrator held that the employees were entitled to back pay and reinstatement, because there was no convincing evidence that they were undocumented. The district court found that the employees’ failure to show that they were obtaining new social security cards gave Aramark constructive notice that the employees were unauthorized to work. Accordingly, the district court held that enforcement of the arbitration award would violate immigration law, and therefore, the award was void as against public policy. SEIU appealed.

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