06 Mar 2018 The Immigrant Worker Protection Act and What it Means for Your Business
Joint guidance from the California Labor Commissioner and California Attorney General put California businesses on notice about new required practices involving their employees and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The guidance states that as of January 1, 2018, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) imposes various prohibitions and obligations on employers with regard to worksite inspections by immigration enforcement agents.
The questions employers should now be asking themselves include what exactly is the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, whether their practices violate that law, and what they can do to remain compliant with it and federal immigration law to prevent legal troubles that can hurt their companies.
Challenges of the Age
Over the last several years, the issue of immigration and labor has been a hot button topic across the country. California’s state government has taken the stance that it will do everything it can to protect immigrant workers and refuse to comply with federal authorities and their efforts to enforce immigration law through deportations and other enforcement actions.
As a result of this environment, and in response to the increase in enforcement actions, the California legislature and governor created a law known as the Immigrant Worker Protection Act. The Act was not only a way to protect migrant workers, but also a way to threaten companies in California if they took certain steps to assist ICE in its effort to ramp up immigration enforcement.
Immigration Worker Protection Act
The Act put several practices into place to prevent migrant workers from becoming subject to broad immigration enforcement sweeps that are known to happen from time to time. Among the provisions of the bill are requirements that:
- Demand a warrant from immigration officials before giving them access to a worksite;
- Make it illegal to provide immigration officials confidential employee information without a subpoena;
- Require companies to inform their employees prior to a federal audit of their records; and
- Prohibit an employer from going back and re-verifying information that was provided on employment forms.
In addition to these requirements, the new law provides the government with exclusive enforcement procedures, including:
- Give the attorney general and labor commissioner authority to enforce the new state law requirements.
Your Company’s Next Steps
It is important that your company understands the new procedures and is compliant with them. One of the questions that will arise in view of this law is what obligations your company has to the federal government if they ask for information. This can be a complicated area of law, and should be guided by competent legal counsel.
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