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The New York Times this morning reports that at least 40 warehouse employees at the Fresh Direct e-grocery service in New York City quit or were suspended this week after the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency informed the company that it “planned to inspect the records of every employee and asked them to update their information and provide documents, like Social Security cards, to prove employment eligibility.”

Company management circulated a memo early this week informing them of the inspections, and the work force “reacted with panic and distress,” according to the Times. They told the Times that the company is trying to comply with the government requests, but refused further comment about the departed workers.

And, the Times writes, “The federal investigation, part of a national campaign aimed at employers who hire illegal immigrants, comes in the midst the company’s busiest season and in the middle of a conflict over efforts to unionize some 900 Fresh Direct warehouse workers. The workers are scheduled to vote on Dec. 22 and 23 on whether to affiliate with either Local 805 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters or Local 348 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which recently organized Fresh Direct drivers.”

Company officials also deny allegations that the company may have invited the investigation as a way of derailing the unionization efforts.

KC's View:
I feel bad for the Fresh Direct workers, whether they are illegal or not. This is a tough time of year to lose a job…no matter what your citizenship status.