2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: PROTECTIONS FOR IMMIGRANT WORKERS
This legislative session Governor Brown again signed into law several new labor and employment statutes. Many of the new laws this year expand enforcement tools and strengthen existing protections for employees in areas including leave and disability rights, pay equity, wage and hour protections, and prevailing wage and public works. In this series of seven articles, we have summarized the new state laws by category.
AB 1509 – Anti-Retaliation Protection
Assembly Bill 1509 expands anti-retaliation protections to employees who are family members of an employee who has or is perceived to have engaged in protected conduct. Protected conduct generally is activity that enforces the Labor Code, or anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection laws. This bill is meant to fill in existing gaps in the law, such as the “associational retaliation” gap that exists where an employer employs two or more family members. In that case, if one employee engages in protected activity, the employer could arguably terminate the family member of that employee. AB 1509 clarifies that such retaliation is unlawful. This is necessary to protect workers’ family members from retaliation for exercising their rights, with the recognition that labor and employment laws are meaningless if workers are too intimidated to report or complain about illegal treatment. The bill also clarifies that the anti-retaliation laws prohibit a “client employer” from terminating a contract with a labor supplier because the labor supplier’s employees engaged in protected activity.
AB 622 – E-Verify
AB 622 creates important protections for workers, including immigrant workers, who may face discrimination from employers that abuse E-Verify. E-Verify is a federal program that employers may use to check whether a newly hired employee is authorized to work in the United States. E-verify is generally voluntary. Some employers use E-Verify in ways not permitted by law. AB 622 addresses this concern by establishing a $10,000.00 penalty against employers when they use E-Verify in a way that violates federal law or if the employer fails to provide an employee with a “Tentative Non-Confirmation” (TNC) or similar information relating to the employee. This new law also strengthens existing protections, which prohibit employers from using E-Verify to retaliate against workers based upon the worker’s immigration status.
SB 432 – Delete the Term “Alien” From Labor Code
This bill deletes the use of the term “alien” in Labor Code referring to foreign-born workers. The intent of the bill is to delete any derogatory reference to foreign-born workers who greatly contribute to the state’s work force and economy.
SB 600 – Language, National Origin and Immigration Status Discrimination
The Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits business establishments from discriminating against individuals on the basis of certain characteristics. SB 600 clarifies existing law by specifically adding citizenship, primary language, and immigration status to the list of protected classes in the statute. However, verification of immigration status and discrimination based on verified immigration status, where required by federal law, does not constitute a violation.
The material on this website is provided by Beeson, Tayer & Bodine for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented. Some of the articles are updated periodically, and are marked with the date of the last update. Again, readers should consult with their own legal counsel for the most current information and to obtain professional advice before acting on any of the information presented.