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Sears Offers to Rehire 3 Illegal Aliens Who Sued Over Job Loss

May 13, 1987|GEORGE RAMOS | Times Staff Writer

Sears, Roebuck & Co. has offered to rehire three illegal immigrants who filed discrimination complaints after they were fired by the retailer because they could not prove that they were in this country legally, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"They're welcome to work for us again," said spokesman Bill Rule, who said in a telephone interview from Sears' Chicago headquarters that the company has changed its policy to comply with recently released federal guidelines for the new immigration law. Those rules prohibit the dismissal of undocumented workers if they are eligible for legalization and intend to apply for it.

Before the May 5 start of the amnesty program, it had been Sears' policy to not hire illegal aliens, Rule said. Under that policy, the women--Alicia Zamora Chacon, 30; Maria de Lourdes Placencia, 20, and Yesenia Vargas, 18, who live in East Los Angeles--were fired last February from jobs at the Sears warehouse in Boyle Heights because they could not produce so-called "green cards" to prove legal residency in the United States, he said.

Rule said Sears had waited for the new guidelines, which were released May 1, before changing the company's hiring policy.

'Concrete Victory'

Sears' change of heart was called a "very concrete victory" by one of the women's attorneys, Antonio Rodriguez, director of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. "This should send a signal to other employers that they can't do this," he said.

Attorneys for the three women filed complaints on Monday with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging that their bosses ignored the women's contentions that they were eligible for amnesty and wanted to apply for it.

The women's firings prompted a storm of protests last month from Latino and church activists, who picketed the Sears store at Olympic Boulevard and Soto Street in Boyle Heights to criticize what they called the company's "mean-spirited" policy of firing illegals.

Chacon, who was described by relatives as being "extremely happy" with the decision, is expected to report to work today. Placencia and Vargas were expected to be back at their jobs by the end of the week, Rodriguez said.

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