FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2013
CONTACT: Steve Smith (510) 326-4644
Governor Brown Signs Historic Laws Protecting Immigrant Workers from Abusive Employers
New Laws Will Protect Immigrant Workers from Retaliation
Sacramento, CA—Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 263, a bill designed to stop unscrupulous employers from retaliating against immigrant workers who stand up for their rights. AB 263 provides the strongest anti-retaliation protections for immigrant workers in the country.
Today’s signing of AB 263 follows Governor Brown’s earlier signing of two other bills, SB 666 and AB 524, part of a package of bills sponsored by the California Labor Federation to protect workers regardless of immigration status. AB 263 (Assemblyman Roger Hernandez) and SB 666 (Senator Darrell Steinberg) will help enforce basic labor laws by prohibiting employers from using immigration-related threats when workers speak out about unfair working conditions. AB 524 (Assemblyman Kevin Mullin) makes it clear that making immigration threats in order to get away with wage theft may constitute criminal extortion.
“Employers should now be on notice that threats to deport workers to prevent them from standing up for their rights will have serious consequences,” said Art Pulaski, Executive-Secretary of the California Labor Federation. “These new protections will protect all workers who are afraid to report these abuses. As long as unscrupulous employers can exploit low-wage immigrant workers with impunity, all workers suffer.”
The extent of the retaliation against immigrant workers by unscrupulous employers was documented in a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, which co-sponsored the bill.
“For too long, employers have used the threat of deportation to silence workers who are victims of stolen wages, unsafe working conditions, and abuse on the job,” said Eunice Cho, an attorney at the National Employment Law Project. “Immigrant workers are more likely to suffer from abuses such as wage theft and work in low-wage industries. We celebrate Governor Brown’s strong support for protecting the rights of some of the most vulnerable workers in the state.”
"These laws will protect workers like me who try to speak out and then face retaliation," said Gerardo Aguirre, a former employee at Marquez Brothers, a food manufacturing company, who was one of several workers fired while standing up for their rights. "The workers at Marquez Brothers are united in standing up to intimidation, at work and in the State legislature. We need laws that allow all workers to speak up and protect immigrant workers from these kinds of abuses."
The legislation will take effect on January 1, 2014. More than fifty community organizations, representing civil rights, immigrant rights, and labor rights, supported this bill package.