This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued official guidelines for protecting undocumented workers who experience or witness workplace violations. The policy allows undocumented workers to make complaints about labor violations and to participate in investigations without fear of immigration-related retaliation.
Jorge Mújica, of the workers’ rights advocacy organization Arise Chicago, explained how workers who want to file complaints can find resources to help.
“One, identify your violation,” Mújica advised. “Identify what the employer is violating. It's not the same thing to violate the Fair Wage Act as to violate the [Americans with Disabilities Act], etc. So, first, identify your labor problem. The immigration part is going to come later. Don't try starting by going to an immigration attorney because they don't know about labor laws. This is a labor issue; this is not an immigration issue. So go to the experts on labor issues: workers’ centers.”
Mújica said that while it’s common to fear retaliation from an employer when filing a complaint, these new policies offer robust protection for the employee.
“Every worker — doesn't matter citizen or undocumented — is obviously afraid to file complaints against the employer because they can lose their job,” Mújica said. “But an undocumented worker fears that besides losing [their] job, immigration is going to come after [them]. So, we call this the policy against fear. Undocumented workers should not fear anymore. They should come forward and file complaints.”