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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Mohawk Industries Appeal

The Supreme Court on Monday said it has declined to consider an appeal by a carpet and floor-covering company that was sued by its employees for hiring illegal immigrants in an effort to depress wages.

Mohawk Industries had sought to have the case dismissed, something lower federal courts had declined to do. The Court's decision allows the suit to proceed in federal court.

The case was argued before the Supreme Court in April last year but the justices did not issue a ruling. Instead, they sent it back to a lower court to be reconsidered in light of a decision by the justices in a similar case.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last September that the lawsuit by Shirley Williams and other Mohawk workers could go ahead, however. The carpet and floor coverings company then appealed to the Supreme Court a second time.

At issue in the case is the use of civil lawsuits under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which was originally intended to fight organized crime. Williams and the other Mohawk employees charge that the company violated RICO by conspiring with employment recruiting agencies to hire illegal workers in an effort to lower wages.

The workers claim they received lower wages than employees at other companies in the northern Georgia region where Mohawk is based. The area is known as the "Carpet Capital of the World" and is home to carpet plants for Shaw Industries, Interface and other companies.

Calhoun, Ga.-based Mohawk argues that its contracts with outside employment agencies do not constitute a racketeering enterprise and the workers were not directly harmed by the conduct alleged to have violated RICO.

The case is Mohawk Industries Inc. v. Williams, 06-873.

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