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New California Labor Laws To Protect Undocumented Worker Set To Start

California labor laws are designed to protect all workers, regardless of immigration status. But worker advocates say it’s tough to enforce those laws in the underground economy.

Caitlin Vega with the California Labor Federation said she frequently hears about employers using immigration consequences as a tool for intimidation to keep workers from talking about workplace violations.

“It’s really heartbreaking to talk to workers who are faced with this,” Vega said.


Vega says two bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown will protect workers, one by Assemblyman Roger Hernández, the other by Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg.

“The Hernandez bill creates this category of unfair immigration-related retaliation with a specific penalty. The Steinberg bill actually also extends to attorneys who participate in these kinds of threats,” Vega said.

Attorneys could face suspension or disbarment while employers could be fined up to $10,000.

Some business groups like the California Chamber of Commerce say employers shouldn’t be penalized for the actions of rogue supervisors.