Documented Workers and Undocumented Workers Alike are Protected by California Wage And Labor Laws

California labor laws protect all workers, regardless of immigration or citizenship status. With very few exceptions, all workers, regardless of immigration status, are entitled to all the rights and protections offered under California wage and hour laws. Under California law, an employer cannot refuse to pay a worker all wages due, or pay a worker less than what is required under California minimum wage and overtime laws due to immigration status. Nor can an employer deny a worker the rest breaks and lunch periods to which he or she is entitled under California law because of immigration status or refuse to pay all tips or commissions or other forms of wages due. In fact, it is the public policy of California to ensure that no employer takes advantage of a worker because of immigration status: “All protections, rights, and remedies available under state law...are available to all individuals regardless of immigration status... who are or who have been employed, in this state.” Cal. Civil Code §3339; Cal. Government Code §7285.

For purposes of enforcing California wage and hour laws, a person’s immigration status is irrelevant to the issue of liability. In a proceeding to enforce California wage and hour laws, no inquiry shall be permitted into a person’s immigration status unless the person seeking to make this inquiry has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the inquiry is necessary to comply with federal immigration law. Cal. Labor Code §1171.5(b). In fact, in the absence of a judicial warrant, or except as otherwise required by federal law, an employer shall not voluntarily consent to an immigration enforcement agent entering any nonpublic area of a workplace or obtaining employee records. Cal. Government Code §§7285.1, 7285.2. “California ‘statutes leave no room for doubt about this state's public policy with regard to the irrelevance of immigration status in enforcement of state labor... laws.’” Santillan v. USA Waste of Cal., Inc. (9th Cir. 2003) 853 F.3d 1035, 1046.

“’Earned but unpaid salary or wages are vested property rights.’... Noncitizens are guaranteed the same property rights as citizens” Reyes v. Van Elk, Ltd. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 604, 612. It is illegal to report or threaten to report the suspected or actual immigration status of an employee who has complained of not being paid properly under California labor laws. Cal. Labor Code §§244, 1019.

Thus, a worker, regardless of immigration status, can:

  • File a complaint that the employer violated California Labor Code laws, so long as it is brought in good faith.
  • Seek information about whether the employer is paying the worker in compliance with the California Labor Code.

Moreover, the business license of an employer may be suspended or revoked if the employer has been determined to have violated California Labor Code §244 by reporting or threatening to report the suspected or actual immigration status of a worker who has complained of not being paid properly under California labor laws. Cal. Business & Professions Code §494.6.

Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, if you believe you are not receiving all wages you are owed or if you believe you are not receiving all rest breaks or lunch periods to which you are entitled under California Law, please contact the top wage and hour lawyers at Kokozian Law Firm.

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"Bruce Kokozian is the best lawyer in town! From the beginning, he was straightforward and honest with me about my case. He was sympathetic of my situation and fought aggressively for my rights. I understood all the details of the case, and was supported by the extremely nice and helpful staff. Overall, I am extremely happy with Bruce's ability to settle my case. I love Kokozian Law Firm for getting me everything I deserved out of my case, and for allowing me to get back on my feet and move forward!” Mary M.
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"Bruce Kokozian is the best lawyer in town! From the beginning, he was straightforward and honest with me about my case. He was sympathetic of my situation and fought aggressively for my rights. I understood all the details of the case, and was supported by the extremely nice and helpful staff. Overall, I am extremely happy with Bruce's ability to settle my case. I love Kokozian Law Firm for getting me everything I deserved out of my case, and for allowing me to get back on my feet and move forward!” Mary M.
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