Immigration Status Termination

Employers may not wrongfully terminate employees on the basis of their immigration statuses: “All protections, rights and remedies available under state law, except any reinstatement remedy prohibited by federal law, are available to all individuals regardless of immigration status who have applied for employment, or who are or have been employed in this state.” Lab.C. §1171.5(a).

The statute accordingly leaves “no room for doubt about this state’s public policy with regard to the irrelevance of immigration status in enforcement of state labor, employment, civil rights and employee housing laws.” Hernandez v. Paicius, (2003) 109 C4th 452, 460.

In order to bring a claim for discrimination based on an employee’s immigration status, the plaintiff needs to prove that the employee:

  • is an immigrant from another country;
  • that the employee’s job performance was satisfactory, or that the employee was qualified for the job which they ultimately were not hired for;
  • that the employee was subjected to discriminatory conduct, (Ex: being discharged from work or forced to quit);
  • and that other employees, who were not immigrants, were not terminated or discouraged to quit.

Aside from obvious cases where an employer outright explains to an immigrant employee that he is firing her due to her immigration status, wrongful terminations may also be inferred from the circumstances surrounding a discharge. For instance, if an employer terminates an immigrant employee solely because she was unable to read English phrases at a fast enough rate, he would have terminated her for an issue directly related to her citizenship or immigration status. At the same time, however, in order to be successful on the claim, the employee would probably have to show either that reading English at a particular rate was not a skill central to the performance of the job for which she was hired or that she would have been able to read at the required rate given enough training.

In fact, there are several ways that people of disparate national origins may be pressured to leave by discriminatory conduct short of termination. Examples of possible claims of discrimination that may eventually lead to wrongful termination based on national origin or ancestry, include:

  • English only policies at work,
    • An employer requiring employees to speak English while at the workplace was discriminating against non-English speakers and was prohibiting them from speaking on the job whatsoever. Garcia v. Spun Steak Co. (9th Cir. 1993) 998 F2d 1480, 1488.
    • Although, rules against the use of foreign languages at the workplace may be upheld if there is a legitimate business necessity and the employees have notice. Cal. Gov. Code §12951(a).
  • discrimination based on a person’s accent,
    • Raad v. Fairbanks North Star Borough School Dist. (9th Cir. 2003) 323 F3d 1185, 1195.
  • dress codes at work that discriminate against a person’s ethnic dress. Etc.
Contact Us

If you have experienced discrimination at your workplace based on your immigration status, contact the leading immigration status termination attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC. 323-857-5900. Ask about our free initial consultation.