New employee rights bill could protect immigrant workers

No matter what occupation employees are working in, they have the right to be safe while working in California. Under California employment laws, employees do not need to tolerate unsafe working conditions. In many cases, there are standards that employers need to live up to or else they can face scrutiny from the state. If employees report unsafe working conditions to state, federal or other agencies they cannot be fired or face any sort of retaliation at work for doing so.

What if the employees happen to be immigrants, can they face repercussions? Currently, there are no laws making it illegal for employees try and have workers deported if they complain about the working conditions. However, a new bill has been proposed in the state Senate which would create new employment law protections for immigrant workers.

Under this bill — which recently passed the Senate and is moving onto the Assembly — employers could not retaliate against a employees’ immigration status in retaliation for that employee complaining about the working conditions or underpayment. However, the bill would not preclude employers reporting immigration status for non-retaliatory reasons.

Those opposing the bill think that it only distracts from the real issue — that unsafe working conditions threaten California workers all the time. Hopefully, this law will not only offer protections to immigrant workers but will spur a conversation about how to better protect workers from unsafe conditions.

Employees who are not safe at work should not hesitate to report these conditions. No one should risk getting hurt at work. If employers retaliate, employee’s rights laws can help them get compensation for the retaliatory behavior.

Source: The Republic, “Bill would protect immigrants who complain about work conditions from retaliation by employers,” May 28, 2013

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