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Immigration & Discrimination in the Workplace



The number of legal and illegal immigrants in California is one of the largest in the nation. From prestigious careers to tough manual labor, these immigrants make up a significant percentage in the workforce. Many workers are subjected to abuse, neglect, and retaliation by their employers that stems from their immigration status or countries of origin.


With hate-speak being perpetrated by government leaders regarding immigrants in the U.S., immigrant workers may be faced with higher rates of discrimination. Forms of discrimination include but not limited to:


● Name-calling and slurs

● English-only workplace policies

● Unpaid wages

● Scheduling issues

● Unsafe working conditions


These workers are also experiencing higher amounts of retaliation if complaints are made, including threats of deportation. The amount of power an employer over these workers is both unfair and illegal.


In response, California has passed several laws to protect immigrant workers. In 2017, an addition to the existing law was published by the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission. It expanded protections and regulations regarding “national origin,” including defining a group’s origin as including all “physical, cultural and linguistic” attributes. This means it is easier to identify both an immigrant’s origin as a protected status as well as providing more definite boundaries when looking at cases of discrimination.


Discrimination based on citizenship status is illegal as covered by the INA (Immigration and Nationality Acts) anti-discrimination provision. That, paired with California’s progressive laws defining national origin, give protections to the state’s immigrant worker population. Should an employer be found guilty of discrimination, they are subject to civil damages and penalties. This could include:

● Back pay for the employee.

● Paying damages equal to the amount of money the employee may have lost from unfair treatment, unequal pay, or wrongful termination.

● Reinstating the employee in their job, or paying their projected future earnings if reinstatement isn’t possible.


If you feel you’ve been discriminated against at your job due to your immigration status, speak with an experienced employment lawyer at the Law Offices of Tanya Gomerman. Call 415-545-8608 to schedule a FREE consultation today.

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