New DOL Policy Denies Due Process

May 7, 2008

Deputy Secretary of Labor, Cinta Kaipat, announced that the CNMI Department of Labor will be treating workers who file cases in Superior or federal court as "any other worker." If a guest worker has a pending case in court and their current permit expires they "will be processed for repatriation as would any other worker." The Saipan Tribune article states:

"CNMI law provides that a foreign national worker who is required to exit the Commonwealth is permitted to remain for up to 30 days beyond the required exit date in order to pursue civil or criminal claims or to pursue a violation of NMI labor law. In order to stay longer than 30 days, the worker who has a claim in Superior Court or federal court will need an order from the court extending the departure date “as necessary to ensure due process rights are protected.”

Cases pending with other agencies, such as U.S. Labor, the EEOC, the NLRB, or any other outside agency that has jurisdiction within the Commonwealth to enforce federal law, will be handled in the same way as cases pending in the courts."

There are hundreds of pending labor cases with EEOC, the NLRB, the US Department of Labor, and in the courts. Since the NLRB and EEOC offices are located in Hawaii it is unlikely that they will be getting court orders to order stays for guest workers with cases. How long would it take for the NLRB, EEOC and US Department of Labor to get these orders? Should the guest workers with outstanding cases with these federal departments and agencies be requesting court orders from the NLRB, EEOC, and US Department of Labor?

This is an unconstitutional policy. It is unjust to make the guest workers with pending court cases leave the commonwealth before their cases are heard. The CNMI government is very aware that once they leave they could not return. This policy denies due process to the guest workers with legitimate court and federal cases. It sends a bad message -that employers who abuse their workers have little to fear since they probably will never be held accountable. It sends another message to workers - that it is useless to file a case in court since they may never have the chance to have it heard. This policy encourages labor abuse. It is unconstitutional.

It looks like the DOL and administration are taking jabs at the guest workers, and at the federal government. Is this some sort of retaliation for the passage of S. 2739? Are they trying to show the federal government that they can still control the fate of the guest workers during the transition period? That they can still deny their rights? This certainly does not send a message that the CNMI administration will be working in unity with the federal government to create policies after the law is signed by President Bush within days.

CNMI attorneys who have the best interest of the guest workers in mind may want to step up and take DOL, and those who drafted this unconstitutional policy to federal court to challenge it. Those who wrote this policy, and who enforce this policy should be held personally accountable for knowingly engaging in unconstitutional denial of rights and due process. When former Labor Director, Mark Zachares and Assistant Attorney General Robert Goldberg illegally arrested guest worker Areil Gorromeo, Federal Judge Alex Munson ruled that the two could be held liable personally. A Saipan Tribune article states:

US District Court Judge Alex Munson invoked this jurisprudence in denying labor officials’ motion for dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a nonresident worker.

The case was filed by Ariel Gorromeo against Labor Secretary Mark Zachares and the immigration division’s legal counsel Asst. Atty. Gen. Robert Goldberg.

Gorromeo, represented by lawyer Anthony Long, alleged that he was arrested and detained twice by labor and immigration agents without any warrant nor proper procedure.The department later filed a deportation case against him, which the Superior Court dismissed on July 22...

He was released from detention following the court’s order, only to be arrested again at his house the following day, and again without a warrant.

Zachares and Goldberg, who were sued in their personal capacities, sought the dismissal of the case claiming they enjoyed absolute immunity from suit, and describing Gorromeo’s allegations as "vague and ambiguous."

In denying the labor officials’ motion, Munson ruled that the Gorromeo’s "factual allegations must be treated as true."

"Plaintiff’s complaint advanced eight claims for relief alleging violations of [his] 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and an illegal warrantless arrest," Munson stated in a written order issued June 29.

Munson also noted that Zachares and Goldberg failed to address the constitutional issues raised by Gorromeo.

More Denial of Due Process

Guest workers and attorneys have reported that labor cases are routinely being dismissed at the CNMI Department of Labor. Guest workers who have reported to DOL have been told by case workers that their cases are scheduled to be heard on a certain date. However, notices are being published in the newspapers for earlier hearing dates than what they were told by the hearing officers! Why would guest workers check the newspapers for a hearing dates when they were already given set dates by hearing officers? Why is the DOL handing out one hearing date to a guest workers, and publishing a different hearing date in newspapers?

The guest workers should not be notified of hearings through publication. They should be served personally with a notice. The DOL can expect hundreds of appeals.

Furthermore, guest workers should not be required to have their cases heard by those who drafted unconstitutional policy or laws, by employees who make public racist remarks against guest workers, or by "volunteer" hearing officers. Someone needs to investigate the CNMI Department of Labor.

See these posts for additional information on practices within the CNMI Department of Labor:

Volunteer at the CNMI Department of Labor -Worker Alert!

Labor News from the CNMI

Labor News- backlog of 8,000 cases

Exit Requirement Sends Conflicting Messages

Checks and Plane tickets Discovered at DOL

Federal Ombudsman Responds to Cinta Kaipat

Harmful Propaganda and Spin -Who's Pulling the Strings?


Ron Hodges said...

Does this mean the NMI only green cards are out?

This was predictable and we discussed this issue before. More of the same from the Fitial Fed Fighters running DOL.