AG Eric Schneiderman Will "Never Ask Your Immigration Status" In Employment Beefs

illegalass.jpg
www.zazzle.com
...it doesn't matter -- as long as Eric Schneiderman's the New York Attorney General.
If you're an illegal immigrant working in New York, you've got a friend in a pretty high place: the New York Attorney General's Office.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman penned an op-ed yesterday, in which he vows to "never ask your immigration status, or share immigration information with federal authorities" if you find yourself the victim of unfair labor practices -- specifically if you're getting taken advantage of by your employer because of your less-than-legal immigration status.

That's right, the state's top prosecutor is willing to turn a blind eye to federal immigration laws in order to go after predatory employers, whom, in most cases, are U.S. citizens.

We have a feeling Schneiderman won't be making too many friends in Arizona, where the state government has decided to take it upon itself to handle its illegal immigration problem -- the feds be damned.

Schneiderman offers the following scenarios -- which he says have occurred in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx -- to justify his position on labor disputes between illegal immigrants and employers:

Imagine being hired as a cook, but not being paid for three months. Or being underpaid by tens of thousands of dollars as a garment worker, and then being pressured by your boss to lie at a hearing to cover up for him having underpaid you. Or, finally recovering wages that were owed to you after being paid less than minimum wage, only to be fired by your boss in retaliation for exercising your rights.

According to the AG, these sorts of things happen frequently in New York, but often go unreported because victims are afraid to go to authorities because of their immigration status.

Believe it or not, Arizona actually has its own law for punishing employers (on paper, anyway). However, in the Grand Canyon State, the law is designed to punish them for giving an illegal immigrant a job, not for exploiting their immigration status to save a few bucks (although, there are still basic employment laws on the books that protect all workers from abuse -- like in New York, though, illegal immigrants are often too afraid to report their crooked employers).

Arizona has what's called an "Employer Sanctions Law," which punishes employers for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. It's what America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff," Joe Arpaio, uses as an excuse to go hunting for illegal immigrants at Phoenix businesses -- he calls the immigrant roundups "employer sanctions operations," even though the only people who get in any sort of trouble are usually employees. In fact, since the law was passed in 2007, there have only been two cases where employers have been punished at all -- a Subway restaurant that was forced to close its doors for two days after it was discovered the owner was knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. The other is a water park, which avoided a 10-day suspension for violating the law by going out of business. Its parent company, Golfland Entertainment Centers, didn't lose any privileges.  

In contrast, the "Employer Sanctions" law has led to the arrest and deportation of thousands of illegal immigrants (employees).

Read Schneiderman's entire op-ed below.

Imagine being hired as a cook, but not being paid for three months.  Or being underpaid by tens of thousands of dollars as a garment worker, and then being pressured by your boss to lie at a hearing to cover up for him having underpaid you.  Or, finally recovering wages that were owed to you after being paid less than minimum wage, only to be fired by your boss in retaliation for exercising your rights. 

Each of these stories describes the real experiences of workers in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx who had their labor rights violated.  In these cases, my office investigated and the offenders were arrested (one has pled guilty).  But too often labor violations like these--wage theft, witness tampering, retaliation--go unreported.

Workers who are underpaid, or not paid at all, may not know their rights, or they may not know where to go to report violations. Most of all, many abused workers are afraid to contact authorities, especially if they or their family members are undocumented immigrants.  Many unscrupulous employers rely on precisely this fear to keep their misconduct secret and avoid accountability. 

If you are reading this and are not being paid what you are legally owed for your work, I want you to know that the Attorney General's labor bureau enforces labor laws for all workers regardless of immigration status.  Please come forward and report what is happening.  We will never ask your immigration status, or share immigration information with federal authorities.

New York State's minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (under very specific conditions, there is a slightly lower rate for workers who receive tips).  If you work more than 40 hours in a week (or 44 hours for live-in workers), you must be paid one and a half times your usual rate for overtime.  Your employer cannot require you to work "off the clock," and owners and managers may not take a cut of tips.  These practices are illegal, and they are treated as seriously by my office as any other kind of crime. 

Most importantly, you have the right to report violations of the labor law to the government, and it is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who complain about violations.  Violators are required to pay back wages, come into compliance with the law, and are subject to significant penalties.

The guiding philosophy of my office, for labor rights cases and all the cases that come before us, is that there must be equal justice under the law, and one set of rules for everyone.  If unscrupulous employers are allowed to treat immigrant workers as a special class that is beneath the protection of the law, it puts honest employers at an unfair disadvantage, and lowers workplace standards for all workers--immigrant and native born. 

These are difficult economic times, for workers and for many small businesses.  That's all the more reason to defend the law, and not allow an economic race to the bottom that drives workers into poverty, and drives honest employers out of business.  If you or someone you know is a victim of labor rights violations, please contact my office at 212-416-8700.

My Voice Nation Help
10 comments
Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller

Good for him. Regardless of whether or not you believe immigrants should be blamed for our country's dysfunctional immigration system, victims of crimes should always be able to come forward without fear of deportation because their papers aren't in order.

Amaha7861
Amaha7861

They are here illegal. They have no right to be here. Take a look every country they have immigration law on there country. And what they do with illegal immigrant?! Yea, they send them back home. If you illegal in there country. They didn't want you to stay there. Yea they ship you back home. It's not about hate. It's about right they have to follow the law that we have like there country.

levelon
levelon

ur realy stupid 786 regardless u not having any rights here, u should be taken advantage of ? I dont thik so schneideerman enforces work law not immigration law, because u dont agree with him, he's no good eh....u all so full of hate, and grudge u should understand whats realy happening here most of u guys dont even understand whats happening here but u all want to hate for no reason, I am so sick of all this craziness, oh these guys taking jobs, taking medical care, taking my mother from my father, its so sickening and stupid, I am an american why should I want to hate on someone who I dont know or never did anything to me

Ben Dover
Ben Dover

GOD BLESS SCHNEIDERMAN! This man should be cannonized for Sainthood. Unlike Arizonian "Christian Fundamentalist"- he recognizes the dignity of ALL workers regardless of their status. In a heart beat I'd vote for him!

Myriam Breitman
Myriam Breitman

Good for Schneiderman, he is a mensch. Illegal immigrants are being taken advantage too often by money grabbing rogue employers.

americanpiehole
americanpiehole

Let me correct your statement to read, foreign nationals and money grabbing rogue employers are taking advantage of the American people and both should be stopped whenever and wherever they are found.   Illegal aliens should be deported and employers should be fined heavily.   

levelon
levelon

amercanpiehole what do u realy know about immigrants or illegal alien, am almost sure u dont know anything of what ur saying.  What jobs ur so dumb, u like one of those monkey see monkey do....person...u dont even know ur head from your tail....i'll bet on that one....I am an american I dont hate like that live and lets live.....u seems to be one of those person who sit and wait on the government to give u a hand out and not willing to work for what u want

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller

Yeah, that guy working 5 bucks an hour with no health insurance on the slaughterhouse floor is really taking advantage of you. 

Joe Schmoe
Joe Schmoe

He is charged with enforcing labor law, not immigration law.  Since the two are in conflict in this situation, it makes more sense to enforce the one that he is empowered to enforce! 

Imagine if every mugging or rape victim was asked for his (or her) immigration status!  This would amount to de facto terrorism against people who are here illegally, since they would not have access to the most basic law enforcement.  Then why is a labor dispute any different?  Answer . . . it's not!

americanpiehole
americanpiehole

It is always a sad day when a chief law enforcement officer throws the constitution under the bus but then he has a good roll model  from the other pathetic Eric in the Department of Justice who also believes he is above the law.  The primary reason for the problem of illegal aliens is that these people that have the power to do what is right according to the law refuse to do their job.   There is a chance that Eric Holder will be charged with perjury since there is no doubt he lie to congress about when he knew about “fast and furious”.  I can only hope that someone is watching this piece of excrement in Albany.   

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...