California Introduces Bills to Protect Immigrant Workers’ Rights

Undocumented workers often have no recourse if an employer treats them poorly.

Immigration reform has been on a roll in recent months, recently passing through the Senate and making its way to the House. It remains unclear as to what will happen in the conservative-leaning House, but in the meantime, California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would protect workers, including undocumented ones, from employer intimidation.

As it currently stands, businesses essentially have free reign to pressure their workers into working longer hours for less pay. Workers who try to unionize or who complain about unsafe working conditions or unpaid overtime are threatened with retaliation from employers, including potential lost shifts to reduced pay or even loss of job.

The situation is even worse for undocumented workers, who have no recourse if an employer treats them poorly. Managers may withhold wages or threaten to call immigration officials if workers demand to be paid what they are owed.

According to a new proposed bill, SB 263:

“Engaging in an unfair immigration-related practice against a person within 90 days of the person’s exercise of rights protected under this code or local ordinance applicable to employees shall raise a rebuttable presumption of having done so in retaliation for the exercise of those rights.”

What this bill would do is help to prevent employers from reporting workers for immigration violations after a complaint is filed.

While the advocacy community continues to fight for fair, commonsense comprehensive immigration reform, California’s SB 263 is a step in the right direction for our nation’s undocumented immigrants.

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