in 2014 recovered $30 million in wages for 27,000 claimants – most likely
a fractionDONATE
the actual wages stolen from hard-working New Yorkers that year.
Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable to wage theft and unsafe working conditions
because employers realize they will be reluctant to report violations out of fear of being
reported to immigration authorities.  
Their fear is justi ed. This past year, of cers from Immigration and Custom Enforcement
(ICE) have shown up at labor dispute proceedings in California in what appear to be cases of
employer retaliation against workers speaking out against labor violations. ICE has also
contacted California state of cials to ask for details about ongoing investigations into labor
violations at several construction sites in Los Angeles. And although undocumented
immigrants are often eligible for workers’ compensation, employers’ insurance companies
are now reporting undocumented workers to ICE or arresting them for insurance fraud when
they get hurt on the job.
This is unacceptable -- and also illegal. Workers should feel con dent that their claims will be
investigated, and that law-breaking employers will be held accountable, without fearing they
will lose their jobs, or worse, be torn from their families and deported. Moreover, law-abiding
companies should not have to compete with those that lower costs by cheating and
endangering vulnerable workers.
It is more important than ever that community organizations stand up for low-wage workers,
especially immigrants, to make sure their rights at work are honored. Over the last decade,
workers, advocates and community leaders can claim many achievements in combating wage
theft in cities and states across the country. Campaigns have organized direct actions against
employers and industries, fought for stronger legal protections, and won increasing funding
for enforcement.
For example, Maryland passed a Wage Lien law in 2013, allowing workers who have been
victims of wage theft to le a lien on their employer’s property. California enacted a
comprehensive wage theft prevention law in 2015 to prevent companies from evading
liability for wage theft by changing name or ownership, and requiring offenders with
outstanding judgments to post a bond in order to continue operating, following strong antiretaliation laws enacted in 2013 that add strong penalties for employers who use unfair
immigration-related practices to retaliate and instill fear in undocumented workers.

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