If you are one of millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States working in America, you may be in a difficult situation if your employer has treated you unfairly. If you were at work and seriously injured, paid less than minimum wage, harassed, expected to work in unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or mistreated in some other way, you may assume that you have the impossible choice between insisting on your rights as a worker and risking deportation. Fortunately, that is not necessarily the case.
The Law Protects All Workers in America not just American Workers
The Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t just apply to American workers, it protects all workers in America including you. If you are an undocumented immigrant who has been injured at work, you are eligible for worker’s compensation, a fund that covers your medical costs. You are still entitled to fair treatment in a safe and healthy work environment free of harassment, discrimination, and abuse. If you are reporting workplace abuses like sexual harassment, a hostile environment, unsafe practices, health hazards, race or gender discrimination, failure to pay minimum wage, or fraud, this may make you a whistleblower. If you are a whistleblower and an undocumented immigrant, you may receive special protections. The lawyers in the case may not ask you about your birthplace, entry into the United States, social security numbers or cards, a “green card” or alien residence card, passports, driver’s licenses, and any other inquiry intended to elicit information with regard to your right to stay in the United States.
Consider Seeing a Lawyer as a First Rather Than a Last Resort
As an undocumented immigrant, you are no doubt aware that reporting an employer to the government can present possible legal difficulties that may impact you. For many people in your situation, it’s valuable to have a resource, someone who knows your rights in America and understands the system, but who cannot be obligated to compromise your anonymity. A private attorney protects you and your rights.
As conversations, e-mails, and phone calls become less confidential, sometimes just asking for information or help can create problems. In America, attorney-client is one of the few relationships in which your communication about your case is legally privileged. This means your attorney has a duty not to share your information with others unless you consent nor can he or she be forced to share it with others. In addition, a skilled attorney may be able to help you solve the problem without having to compromise your immigration status.
If you are an illegal immigrant and feel like you have been mistreated by your employer, you have a right to seek justice for yourself and your co-workers. You may be able to do so without risking your ability to stay in America.
At a minimum, it may be well worth your time to safely learn more about your options from someone who can confidentially review your case, who can explain your rights, evaluate the risks, and recommend the best ways to move forward on your behalf. After all, didn’t you come to America to have a better life for you and your family?
The law firm of John J. Zidziunas & Associates has a team of New Jersey employment rights and racial discrimination attorneys available to confidentially review your case. We have interpreters available in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. Please let us know in advance if having someone who speaks one of these languages will make meeting with us easier. For further information, call 973-509-8500, email email@example.com, or visit http://employmentdiscrimination.com/.
Image courtesy of Brandon Sigma from FreeDigitalPhotos.net