The Rights of Undocumented Workers in California

If you are undocumented and working in California, you are protected by California employment laws. Your employer may try to use your status to take advantage of you. If that happens, you need to speak to an experienced attorney. We can help you.

Wage and Overtime Protections

Undocumented workers are frequently targeted for wage theft. Your employer might try to pay you less than the minimum allowed. They may attempt to cheat you out of overtime pay you have earned. They may attempt to pay you for fewer hours than you worked. All of these actions are violations of your rights.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you are injured on the job, you are entitled to benefits. That is true regardless of your immigration status. You are entitled to money to help you cover the medical costs resulting from your injury. You may also be entitled to money for wages lost while you were hurt. California workers’ compensation laws apply to everyone, regardless of immigration status.

Unsafe Working Conditions

Wage and hour violations are not the only way undocumented workers are targeted by bad employers. Unsafe jobs may be given to undocumented immigrants as a way to exploit them. Your employer can’t ignore your health and safety. You have the right to refuse to do a job that puts your health in danger. You can also refuse to put your co-workers in danger.

California Disability Insurance

California State Disability Insurance is meant to help workers who get sick or injured and can’t work. Immigration status does not matter. Every worker contributes to the SDI fund. For that reason, every worker can qualify for SDI under the right circumstances.

There Are Limitations

Undocumented immigrants do not have all the same rights as other workers under California law. Some violations would normally allow a worker to seek reinstatement as a remedy. In some cases, an undocumented worker won’t be able to seek this remedy.

One big consequence of this has to do with unemployment benefits. Undocumented workers can’t get unemployment insurance in California because they aren’t available to work under federal law.

Perhaps the biggest risk for undocumented workers is that their employer will retaliate. If you file a complaint against your employer, they may respond by reporting your status to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That is a serious risk.

Before filing a claim against your employer, you should speak with an experienced employment lawyer.

Where to Turn for Help

Your immigration status is not a free pass for your employer to abuse you. If you have been mistreated by your employer, we can help you understand your rights. Learn more about your rights by calling us at 310-394-0888 or send us a message.