A very strong decision just came down from the Appellate Division, 1st Dept. (Angamarca v. New York City Partnership Housing Development Fund, 115471/04), indicating that a Plaintiff’s immigration status is irrelevant to determining damages and cannot be introduced at trial due to its prejudicial value. The underlying case at issue dealt with a construction laborer where substantial damages were awarded.
The Courts in New York have long wrestled with this issue and in recent years have determined that precluding evidence of a Plaintiff’s immigration status is the most practical way to discourage (rather than encourage) employers’ engaging such workers, since allowing evidence of a Plaintiff’s immigration stauts to prejudice a jury and/or cut down on a compensation award would only increase the incentive for these workers to be hired.
An explanation of the decision (summarized by the New York Law Journal) is available here.