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Undocumented workers have labor rights

The New York-based Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund recently noted that illegal immigrant workers are entitled to many of the same rights as legal workers. Among other employee rights, undocumented immigrants are entitled to minimum wage protection and overtime pay. For these types of benefits, the person's immigration status does not matter. The issue arose after a rally on June 11 protesting wage theft abuses and reporters said that workers are not protected under these laws.

Undocumented immigrant workers are covered under New York State labor laws, including the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights. Additionally, New York City human rights laws protect these individuals. Undocumented immigrant workers also have the right to file a complaint with a government agency or in court if they have not been paid their wages, if they have been discriminated against or other workplace rights had been violated. Individuals involved in these proceedings should not question the complaining party's immigration status. In many situations, this status is not relevant at all. Therefore, the party can assert his or her right to privacy.

New York City has additional laws that provide protection to undocumented immigrant workers. For example, an executive order signed by former Mayor Bloomberg in 2003 prohibits a city agency to ask employees about their immigration status or to give this type of information to other governmental agencies. Additionally, there are specific restrictions on the actions of police officers, namely that they should not question a person about his or her immigration status simply because he or she looks like an immigrant.

Undocumented workers who believe that they have been treated unfairly or who have not received wages due to their immigration status may wish to consult with an employment law attorney. The attorney can explain the protections provided by applicable city, state and national laws.

Source: silive.com, "Guess what? 'Undocumented' workers on Staten Island have rights under labor law", Virginia N. Sherry, June 18, 2014

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