Lost Documents Detailing How Trump Exploited Undocumented Polish Immigrants Found, Could Be Unsealed

Previously lost records of a lawsuit allegedly revealing details about how Donald Trump exploited undocumented Polish laborers to clear the site where his Trump Tower now stands have reportedly been found and could be made available to the public.

The long-lost documents, consisting of a transcript and a court brief, were part of thousands of pages of documents filed in 1983 as part of a lawsuit alleging that Trump exploited undocumented Polish immigrants at the site where his signature Trump Tower now stands on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, according to the NY Daily News.

The documents are important in the light of the fact that Donald Trump has denied for decades that he knowingly used undocumented immigrants as laborers to pull down the building that previously stood at the site where his Trump Tower was constructed in 1980.

The newly recovered documents allegedly reveal details about how Trump used and exploited the undocumented workers. The documents also reportedly reveal the details of the settlement reached before the case went to trial.

The documents were previously presumed to be lost, but an attorney who was involved in the case found them recently.

Challenging Trump’s claim that he never knowingly used undocumented immigrants at his Trump Tower site, Time magazine had published an article in 2016 that cited documents pertaining to the lawsuit available at the time. The documents indicated that the undocumented workers had complained about unsafe conditions and unfair wages. The workers also complained that their wages were not being paid.

According to NY Daily News, last week, Lewis Steel, a lawyer who was involved in the case, notified Manhattan Federal Judge Loretta Preska that a retired colleague, Wendy Sloan, who was also an attorney on the case in the 1980s, had found the missing documents.

The lost documents — the transcript and the brief — were found after a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a previous order that all court documents pertaining to the lawsuit should be kept secret. The panel of judges ruled that the documents fell in the category of documents that should be available to the public.

However, the panel acknowledged in its seven-page order that the transcript and the brief, believed to contain critical information about the case, were lost.

“Two of the documents the press organizations seek — the transcript and the brief — have been destroyed pursuant to the Southern District of New York’s standard document retention policies.”


Steel and Sloan then searched their own files and found copies of the documents.

“We know of no privacy reason why these documents should not be unsealed.”


Investigative journalists from several media outlets and organizations, including Time magazine and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, had been seeking to have the entire set of documents relating to the lawsuit released to the public.

“Even though this class action was settled in 1999, there is substantial current public interest in knowing how it was resolved. While we don’t know at this point exactly what is in the sealed documents, they should give the public much better insight into how this litigation was resolved.”

According to Time, the undocumented Polish laborers worked 12-hour shifts with inadequate safety equipment and low wages that the contractor paid irregularly and eventually stopped paying.

One of the workers boldly went to Trump’s office to demand his pay but got nothing. The Poles eventually hired a lawyer who threatened to sue if the contractors refused to pay the workers.

Although Trump denied being aware that the Polish workers were undocumented immigrants, a foreman testified in court that Trump knew they were undocumented workers. The foreman claimed that Trump had personally approached him to hire the laborers, praising them as “good [and] hard workers.”

When Senator Marco Rubio raised the issue during the GOP primary debate, Trump defended himself, saying that the workers were hired by contractors who did not inform him about the immigration status of the workers they hired.

“I hire a contractor. The contractor then hires the subcontractor. They have people. I don’t know. I don’t remember, that was so many years ago, 35 years ago.”

However, Daniel Sullivan, a labor consultant who was helping Trump at the time to negotiate a casino deal, admitted in court that Trump knew that the Poles were undocumented immigrants.

“Donald told me he had difficulties… that he had some illegal Polish employees on the job.”

Sullivan added that he was shocked when Trump admitted he was using undocumented workers at his Trump Tower site.

“I think you are nuts,” Sullivan claimed he told Trump. “You are here negotiating a lease in Atlantic City for a casino license and you are telling me you have got illegal employees on the job.”

[Featured Image by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images]