Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002)

The employer in this case, Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc., was found to have violated Section 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it selected four known union supporters for layoff. During a compliance hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), one of the four employees, Jose Castro, testified that he was born in Mexico and that he had never been legally admitted to, or authorized to work in, the United States. As a result of this testimony, the ALJ denied Castro reinstatement and backpay on the ground that to grant such relief would conflict with existing Supreme Court precedent as well as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). The NLRB reversed the ALJ’s ruling with respect to the denial of backpay, holding that Castro was entitled to $66,951 in backpay, plus interest. The Court of Appeals denied Hoffman Plastic’s petition for review and enforced the NLRB’s order. The United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that federal immigration policy as expressed by Congress in IRCA foreclosed the NLRB’s awarding backpay to an undocumented alien who was never legally authorized to work in the United States.