California’s New Anti-Discrimination Protections For Undocumented Immigrants, Starting July 1, 2018

By: JML Law | July 5, 2018.
California’s New Anti-Discrimination Protections For Undocumented Immigrants, Starting July 1, 2018

Are you an undocumented immigrant working in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California? You may want to learn about California new anti-discrimination protections for unauthorized workers in the state, in effect starting July 1, 2018. If you know your rights, you cannot be illegally fired, discriminated or retaliated against, or harassed.

Fact: There are more than 2.8 million undocumented immigrants in California, and they make up a sizeable portion of the state’s workforce.

Fact #2: Anaheim and other parts of Orange County account for the second highest number of undocumented immigrants in California after Los Angeles County, whose unauthorized immigrant population totals nearly 920,000.

New discrimination protections for undocumented immigrants in California

Today, our Los Angeles discrimination attorney from JML Law is going to outline the new anti-discrimination protections for undocumented workers enacted by state legislators. The new protections were rolled out by California’s Department of Fair Education and Housing (DFEH) and took effect on July 1, 2018.

Although undocumented immigrants are not the only category of individuals whose rights and protections were expanded in the new legislation, their workplace anti-discrimination protections are the most notable and overdue, especially given that complaints from undocumented workers alleging that they have been subject to discrimination and harassment in the workplace by their employers, supervisors, and other employees, have increased in recent years.

Last October, California Governor Jerry Brown officially made more than 2.8 million of undocumented immigrants in the state protected under a state sanctuary law. The new anti-discrimination protections come as part of a broader effort to turn California into a sanctuary state.

What anti-discrimination protections apply to undocumented workers

“If only certain anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections applied to undocumented immigrants in the past, the new law expanded these protections,” explains our experienced discrimination attorney in Los Angeles. “Under the new law, all of the anti-discrimination protections enforced by California’s DFEH to date will explicitly apply to undocumented workers.”

One of the biggest concerns of undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California is that they are reluctant to enforce their legal rights – such as reporting workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation or suing their employer for wrongful termination – out of fear of being deported. The new anti-discrimination law in California has addressed these concerns as well.

Questions and inquiries into an employee’s immigration status are illegal

Under the new rules, employers in California are now prohibited from asking about or inquiring about their employees’ immigration status not only during the course of employment but also during a lawsuit. However, there is one exception if an employer can prove that he or she was trying to comply with federal immigration law. Questions about an employee’s immigration status during litigation can be justified if the employer (defendant) is required to meet a high burden of proof to establish that he/she needed that information in order to cooperate with federal agents.

In other words, the new rules encourage undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California to not be afraid to speak up and come forward if they face discrimination, harassment, retaliation in the workplace or are wrongfully terminated.

However, filing a discrimination (or any other) lawsuit against your employer or supervisor is still a risky business, as your employer may have been trying to comply with federal immigration law, and you, in fact, are at risk of deportation. That is why it is highly advised to speak to a Los Angeles discrimination attorney to investigate your particular case.

Contact the JML Law for a free case evaluation today. Call our offices at 818-610-8800 or complete this contact form.

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