LOS ANGELES -- Frustrated by lax enforcement of immigration law, businesses are taking their fight against illegal immigration to court, accusing competitors of hiring illegal workers to achieve an unfair advantage.
In the first of a series of lawsuits, a temporary employment agency that supplies farm workers sued a grower and a two competing companies on Monday.
Similar cases claiming violations of federal anti racketeering laws have yielded mixed results. The California lawsuit may be the first based on unfair-competition laws, legal experts said.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Global Horizons claimed in the lawsuit that Munger Brothers, a grower, hired illegal immigrant workers from Ayala Agricultural Services and J&A Contractors. All the defendants are based in California's farm-rich Central Valley.
The suit alleges that Munger Brothers had a contract with Global Horizons to provide more than 600 blueberry pickers this spring, but nixed the agreement so it could hire illegal immigrants.
``Competitors hiring illegal immigrants is hurting our business badly," Global Horizons president Mordechai Orian said. ``It's to the point that doing business legally isn't worth it."
Ayala Agricultural Services manager Javier Rodriguez had not seen the suit but said the company does not hire undocumented immigrants.
``If somebody doesn't have a green card or work documents, we don't hire them," he said.
Messages left with Munger Brothers and J&A Contractors were not immediately returned.