How to handle DACA uncertainty

Business owners in Indiana and elsewhere could be fined or jailed for employing DACA "Dreamers" after their work permits expire. However, business owners may face penalties if they terminate workers because of their DACA statuses. It could also be discriminatory to check paperwork related to a person's work status or ask questions about that subject.

Employers should understand that failing to hire a worker because his or her work permit is set to expire may run afoul of employment law as well. Furthermore, terminating workers or not hiring those in the DACA program may be an overreaction at this point. This is because those in the program who have work permits expiring on or before March 5, 2018 may be able to renew those permits until Oct. 5. The new permits would then be valid for two years.

It is also possible that Congress will take steps to modify or extend the DACA program. However, if it doesn't, employers may be fined up to $4,384 for each unauthorized worker they employ. Of the roughly 800,000 people who are part of the DACA program, 700,000 are currently working. If the program were to end, it could result in 30,000 people losing their jobs per month over the next two years.

If an employer violates a worker's civil rights or other relevant employment rights, it may be possible for a worker to file a lawsuit. An attorney could represent a worker either through settlement talks or a formal trial. If successful, a worker may be entitled to financial compensation in the form of back pay and punitive damages. A wrongfully terminated worker could also be reinstated to his or her former position.

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