What federal laws apply to immigrants in the workplace?
Several important federal laws apply to all employees in the workplace, including immigrants.
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets minimum wage and overtime pay for workers in most industries. The FLSA provides other protections, as well, requiring that overtime pay be disbursed on regular paydays and prohibiting employers from taking wage deductions that would reduce a worker’s non-overtime pay level below minimum wage. Notably, the FLSA protects even immigrant workers who do not have work authorizations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act sets safety regulations and procedures that apply to most workers. If a worker is exposed to a workplace hazard, or perhaps suffers a health condition because of workplace conditions, OSHA regulations provide a mechanism for filing a claim.
Federal laws also prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who may have utilized their rights under federal employment laws. These laws, sometimes collectively referred to as Equal Employment Opportunity laws, include such landmark legislation as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and others. In this context, forms of retaliation might include wrongful termination or reporting an undocumented immigrant to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement.
Unfortunately, OSHA statistics indicate that undocumented immigrants are injured at a higher rate than other works. As a law firm that fights for immigrant rights in and out of the workplace, we interpret that statistic to mean that immigrants may be unsure of which laws may apply to their situation. If you are facing unsafe or illegal working conditions but have been afraid to report your employer because of your immigration status, check out our immigration law firm’s website to learn more about your options.
Source: Washington Post, “Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws,” Kristine Phillips, March 5, 2017