Families who come to the United States from other countries do so in hopes of obtaining a better life. The economy also relies on immigrants, who are especially prevalent in such fields as construction and agriculture. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous employers use tactics to take advantage of undocumented workers. It is important for immigrants in California and elsewhere to understand their employment rights.
According to Public Radio International, California has the most immigrants out of any other state, with agriculture making up a large portion of undocumented immigrant work. Immigrants may be unfamiliar with employment law or fear deportation if they stand up for their rights. Therefore, employers often abuse their immigrant staff in the following ways:
- Paying them less than a minimum wage
- Forcing them to work in unsafe or inhumane conditions
- Threatening them with reporting them to immigration officials if they exercise their labor rights
The Economic Policy Institute explains that California laws protect the employment rights of immigrants, regardless of their immigration status. Employers are restricted from making threats of deportation and retaliating against those who complain about unsafe conditions, wage violations and other injustices. Additionally, immigrants may take legal action against employers who violate their rights.
Regardless of their legal status, immigrants have the right to be treated with dignity and equality. It is not always easy to exercise one’s rights, especially if there is a language barrier or unfamiliarity with the law. Immigrants are entitled to competent representation if they are being mistreated or abused by their employers.