California: Know the Undocumented Workers and Rights that Protect them

Usually, undocumented workers enjoy the same wage and hour rights as any other worker. 

Therefore, the same federal and California wage and hour laws that apply to workers with authorization generally apply to people who work without immigration legal status.

These laws establish your rights to a minimum wage, overtime pay, breaks, tips and other forms of salary. 

According to Legal Aid at Work, for example, an employer cannot refuse to pay you by saying that you should not have been working, in the first place because you do not have “papers.” 

However, if you have been fired because you have a complaint about wages, your eligibility to recover certain monetary losses that you suffered because of being fired could be confusing.

undocumented workers

Workers compensation

All workers who are injured at work, including undocumented workers, are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from California to cover the cost of medical treatment and, in some cases, lost wages. 

However, undocumented workers may not be eligible for some retraining benefits. 

Also, if you have been fired because you have a claim about workers’ compensation, it is not very clear if you can recover certain monetary losses that you suffered because of being fired.

Rights under the health and welfare laws

Health and welfare laws protect all workers regardless of immigration status. 

Therefore, undocumented workers have the right to information about their health and welfare rights. 

They have the right to refuse to perform dangerous work if they rightly believe that it would cause real and obvious danger to themselves or their co-workers. 

They may file a health and welfare complaint with the California Occupational Safety and Welfare Administration.

Anti-discrimination

Under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, employers cannot commit discrimination against any worker, including undocumented workers. 

Therefore, if you are an undocumented worker, your employer cannot fire you, refuse to employ you, harass you or take any other action against you due to national origin, including your English language skills, race, color, sex, pregnancy , religion, age, or disability, or (under California law) for other reasons such as your sexual orientation, sexual gender identity (example: transsexual status), marital status and political creed. 

However, if you have been fired by your employer for discrimination, it is not very clear if you can recover certain monetary losses that you suffered because of being fired, or if your work can be returned.

If you are in this situation, contact a lawyer expert on these subjects to guide you through it.

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