There are two proposals making their way through the California Senate. The bills have been passed in the California Senate Judiciary Committee and at least in theory would protect immigrant workers from threats and exploitation.
The bills are aimed at employers for retaliating against immigrant employees when these workers have brought a private action. Employers would not be allowed to threaten to turn employees into immigration officials after complaints have been made by these employees concerning working conditions. The bill would also ban attorneys representing businesses from taking similar actions as a means of silencing or retaliating against the workers.
There are a number of other provisions contained within these bills as well designed to put a stop by labor contractors charging immigrant workers a recruitment fee in return for being lined up for a specific position. It is alleged that the practices of these contractors is nothing short of human trafficking.
The overall concern is that threats of retaliation against employees in California by holding their immigration status over them results in employers benefitting by breaking wage and employment laws. As one California Senator stated this practice "silences the worker and the entire workplace."
We will have to see if the actual proposals are put into law. But whether the bills are or are not passed, attorneys representing these immigrants will continue to fight for their rights under current California law in any case. We will consult with immigrant workers and provide any number of options that will make it eligible to remain on the job in this country and receive the same benefits that are due to every other worker.
Source: Long Island Newsday, "Employers and Lawyers Who Threaten Immigrants Would Be Punished Under Proposed Legislation: New York Should Follow California's Lead," Aug. 1, 2013