Written by Sattiraju Law Firm on November 19, 2019
New Jersey has a large immigrant population that stands as a key pillar to our state’s economy. Fortunately, New Jersey has long recognized the importance of immigrants to our country’s wellbeing, and there are key protections for immigrants once they enter the U.S.
Unfortunately, some employers abuse immigrants, believing that they can squeeze uncompensated labor out of them because they are not citizens. Below, we highlight some of the key rights that immigrant workers possess.
Wage & Hour Protections
New Jersey has set a minimum wage that all employers must pay, as well as overtime laws that provide for time and a half once a worker has clocked 40 hours in a week.
Immigrants enjoy the protection of our state’s wage and hour laws. This is true even of those who are in the country illegally. An employer cannot pay an undocumented immigrant less than the minimum wage and threaten deportation if the worker complains. Of course, some immigrants are rightly worried that they might be picked up by ICE if they complain, but they are protected by these wage and hour laws just the same.
Protection against Discrimination & Harassment
It is illegal to discriminate against a person based on national origin. This is a key protection under federal and New Jersey law. Discrimination also includes harassment, so you do not have to suffer in a hostile work environment where people harass you based on your nationality.
Someone from Mexico, for example, cannot be denied employment solely because they are from Mexico, and they can’t be harassed for that fact. If either happens, the immigrant might have a legal claim for compensation.
Many immigrants work according to an employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement if they are unionized. These contracts are a key source of rights for employees. If the employee and employer signed the contract, then the employee enjoys the rights spelled out in the agreement. The workers’ immigration status should not matter if an employer breaches any provision.
One key area is benefits. A worker should receive the benefits provided for per the agreement. Some employers might try to deny workers these benefits, such as health insurance or time off from work.
Many workers are in the United States on employment-based work visas. Some employers use this fact to manipulate or abuse workers, threatening not to extend the work visa unless the employee works without pay or gives up other important rights. Other employers illegally threaten to retaliate if a visa holder cooperates in a government investigation into the company’s employment practices.
Contact a Lawyer Today to Learn More about Immigrant Worker Rights in New Jersey
At Sattiraju Law Firm, we take immigrant rights in the workplace seriously. Our firm is prepared to help you file an administrative complaint or a lawsuit, if necessary, to get the compensation and other benefits you are entitled to. Don’t let an employer intimidate you into silence.
For help with your case, please contact us right away to schedule an initial consultation, which is always confidential.