Immigrant Workers Threatened

NEW YORK — Letitia James, state attorney general, is proposing legislation to hold employers accountable who retaliate against workers by threatening to expose their immigration status to federal authorities.

The legislation would amend the New York Labor Law to clarify that unlawful retaliation includes contacting or threatening to contact immigration authorities about an employee’s suspected citizenship or immigration status, or the suspected citizenship or immigration status of an employee’s family or household member. The announcement comes on the heels of reports that an employee at President Trump’s golf club was threatened with deportation if she spoke out against her boss. The New York Attorney General’s Office has also received numerous reports of similar threats made to employees by other employers.

“New York state was built by immigrants and it has always stood proudly as a beacon of hope and opportunity no matter where you were born,” James said. “This legislation will represent a critical step toward protecting some of our most vulnerable workers by ensuring that they are not silenced or punished by threats related to their immigration status.”

Current New York Labor Law dictates that an employer cannot fire, threaten, penalize, or otherwise discriminate against a worker who reports or complains about minimum wage, overtime, or other wage and hour violations. James’ proposed legislation would codify the definition of retaliatory conduct to include threats against an individual regarding their immigration status. Violation of this law would be a Class B Misdemeanor and carry up to three months in jail and up to a $20,000 fine.