Undocumented workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in America. They are often victims of unpaid wages, dangerous conditions and uncompensated workplace injuries, discrimination, and other labor law violations. Undocumented workers who try to stand up for their rights routinely face physical and immigration-related threats and retaliation.
Undocumented workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in our country, as frequent victims of unpaid wages, dangerous conditions and uncompensated workplace injuries, discrimination, and other labor law violations. Workers who attempt to remedy the abuse routinely face physical and immigration-related threats and retaliation.
There are an estimated 6.5 million undocumented immigrant workers in the U.S., representing a vital workforce in manufacturing, service, construction, restaurant, and agriculture sectors. Immigrant and non-immigrant communities alike must be informed that all workers—documented or undocumented—are protected under our most basic federal and state employment and labor laws.
The most common protections denied undocumented workers include:
The right to receive the promised wage and/or at least the minimum wage and overtime pay for work actually performed.
The right to healthy and safe conditions on the job.
The right to receive workers’ compensation benefits for injuries on the job.
The right to be free from discrimination based on sex, color, race, religion, and national origin; age; and disabilities.
There is a tremendous need to inform workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities under our employment laws, to provide greater resources for enforcement of such laws, to increase access for workers to the legal system and community organizing, and to adopt immigration policy reforms that will remove the vulnerability of undocumented workers. The current movement of non-profit worker centers across the country—empowering immigrant workers to defend their employment rights and recover their dignity in the workplace—is a vital sign of progress. But it must be complimented with a real commitment from the public and private sector to protect the rights of all workers.
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