Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), all workers regardless of their immigration status are entitled to their rights under established national labor standards, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and safe workplace conditions. If an employee asserts one of their rights protected under labor laws, the FLSA prohibits employers from retaliating against that employee.
In a recent instance, a construction laborer in Massachusetts broke his leg while on the job in 2017. Following the incident, the laborer reported his accident and the employer was subsequently investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The employer then contacted the Boston police, who in turn contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). The employer then informed the laborer that he had a check waiting for him at the workplace, but upon the laborer’s arrival, he was arrested by ICE officials and put into removal proceedings.
As a result of this retaliation, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit on behalf of the laborer against his employer. Last week, the jury found the employer had violated the FLSA and ordered the company to pay the laborer $650,000 in damages.
While this represents a victory for undocumented workers in the U.S., the truth is that most similarly situated individuals do not see such wins. Anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies can have a great chilling effect on undocumented workers reporting workplace violations despite their protections under the FLSA. These circumstances perpetuate exploitative and unlawful workplaces.
If your employer is threatening to report you to immigration officials, keep in mind that there may be options available to you to protect you from deportation or even to file a civil lawsuit against your employer for monetary damages. To discuss your case and options, schedule a consultation with us today.
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