Employer Allegedly Targeted & Accused Hispanic Employees Of Using Fraudulent Social Security Numbers
Having litigated employment discrimination lawsuits in Florida state and federal courts for nearly twenty years, our Alachua County, Florida discrimination lawyers have learned that employers seemingly come up with endless ways to mask their discriminatory intent when firing employees. For example, employers will paper employees’ personnel files with disciplinary actions, give employees undeserved negative performance evaluations, set employees up to fail, deny employees adequate training, and refuse to provide employees with work-related assistance. The allegations in Radek v. Target Corp., No. 16-4750 (N.D. Ill. Dec.20, 2017) reveal yet another way in which an employer purportedly masked its discriminatory intent.
Employee Fired For Using Allegedly Fraudulent SSN
In that case, Esmeralda Radek (Radek) sued her former employer, Target Corporation (Target), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Radek claimed that Target fired her because of her national origin in violation of Title VII.
In January 2012, Radek, who is Hispanic, began working at a Target store in Hodgkins, Illinois. Prior to being hired, Radek passed a background check and Target’s hiring representative never told Radek there was a problem with her social security number. Throughout her employment with Target, Radek received biweekly paychecks that indicated deductions for social security taxes. For 2013 and 2014, Radek received W-2 forms from Target and she filed her income taxes.
During the first two years of her employment, no Target employee ever told Radek there was a problem with her social security number. However, Target’s store management received a letter from a third party in February 2014 stating that Radek was stealing items from the store, selling those items on eBay, and using a fraudulent social security number for her employment with Target.
Approximately one week later, a Target human resources representative at the Hodgkins store called Radek into the human resources office and accused her of using a fraudulent social security number. The Target representative asked Radek to verify her social security number and the state in which it was issued. Radek provided her social security number and claimed that the social security number was valid. Radek also told the representative that she was born in Texas and believed that her mother obtained the social security number for her while in Texas. The next day, Radek was called again into the human resources department and fired for using a fraudulent social security number.
According to Radek, the management at the Hodgkins Target store often targeted Hispanic employees and accused them of using fraudulent social security numbers. This alleged targeting resulted in the firing of Hispanic employees. For example, Radek claimed that a year or two prior to her termination, two other Hispanic employees had been terminated for having allegedly used fraudulent social security numbers. They were rehired after it was confirmed that their social security numbers were valid.
False SSN’s Were “Merely A Ruse” For Discrimination
Target filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Radek’s national origin discrimination claim. The trial court denied Target’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Radek’s allegations were sufficient to state a claim for national origin discrimination.
In denying Target’s motion for dismissal, the trial court pointed out that Radek alleged that “Target had a pattern of targeting and making false allegations against Hispanic employees, including accusing them of using fraudulent social security numbers as a prelude to firing them.” The trial court further explained that Radek claimed that Target did not complain about her social security number when she was hired and Target withheld portions of her pay for social security taxes. The trial court also observed that Radek asserted that when she was asked about her social security number and background, she informed the Target representative that she had a valid social security number and that she was born in Texas. These allegations, the trial court concluded, were sufficient to establish that Radek was “targeted and fired by Target because she is Hispanic, and that Target’s accusation of a false social security number was merely a ruse.” In other words, the trial court reasoned, Target attempted to mask its alleged discriminatory intent by claiming that Radek used a false social security number as a pretext for firing her because she is Hispanic.
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Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we have extensive experience representing victims of employment discrimination. If you have been discriminated against at work or have questions about your rights under employment discrimination laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Alachua County, Florida employment discrimination attorneys. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.