Historic Legislation Signed Protecting Immigrant Workers From Retaliation in California

On October 11, 2013, Governor Brown signed AB 263 creating momentous protections for immigrant workers against employer retaliation.  The bill expands existing law by prohibiting employer retaliation against workers who come forward to enforce their rights under California's labor laws, or otherwise engage in protected conduct.  The new law will take effect on January 1, 2014. 

AB 263 protects workers who complain either orally or in writing about unpaid wages against employer retaliation and entitles workers to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages.  Any person who violates this provision of the law is subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.  Willful refusal by an employer to reinstate or reimburse an employee who is the victim of retaliation is guilty of a criminal misdemeanor.  

The bill also makes it unlawful for employers to engage in unfair immigration-related employment practices.  Such unlawful immigration-related employment practices include: threatening to call or contacting immigration authorities; threatening to file or filing a false police report; requesting new or different documents than required by federal immigration law for employment purposes; or using the federal E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of a worker at a time or in a manner not required by federal immigration law.

The bill also creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if any adverse action is taken against a worker within 90 days of his or her exercising a protected right.  

This bill also prohibits an employer from discharging a worker or discriminating, retaliating, or taking any adverse action against a worker because he or she updates or attempts to update his or her personal information with the employer, unless the changes are directly related to the skill set or requirements of his or her job.    

This is a huge victory for workers in the state of California. 

The text of the bill can be found at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billVotesClient.xhtml.

By Monica Guizar | October 15, 2013

Legal Developments