Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
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Undocumented workers protected under California labor laws

California residents may not be aware that the state's labor laws protect undocumented immigrant workers. While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that federal law prevents the National Labor Relations Board from reviewing cases involving these workers, employment immigration attorneys in California may pursue claims on their behalf for violations of state laws that regulate matters such as working conditions and pay.

These laws provide legal protections for workers in California even if they are not legally authorized to be working in the United States. Workers must be paid at a rate at least equal to the state's minimum wage, and they are entitled to overtime pay after working either eight hours in a day or 40 hours over the course of a week. Undocumented workers may pursue legal remedies if their employer has violated California wage laws, and they may report unsafe work conditions to Cal/OSHA.

When an employee pursues a claim with the California Department of Industrial Relations, they will not be questioned about their immigration status. The DIR, which enforces the state's labor laws, states that claims of unfair treatment are investigated thoroughly regardless of a worker's legal status.

While undocumented workers may be protected by California labor laws, they may still be subject to discriminatory treatment in other areas of their lives. Obtaining the right to legally live and work in the United States is often a lengthy and frustrating process, and the system can be unforgiving when those applying for a visa or Green Card make a mistake. An immigration attorney could explain the various employment based visa programs to those interested in working in America. They could also offer assistance to employers seeking to hire foreign workers to fill positions that require specific skills and qualifications.

Source: State of California, "Undocumented worker rights", September 29, 2014

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