Cuomo Signs Bill Protecting Immigrant Workers from Workplace Harassment

August 5, 2019

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation creating penalties for discrimination or retaliation against immigrant employees into law.

This law is a codification of federal case law interpreting the anti-retaliation provisions of New York’s Labor Law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as prohibiting threats to contact immigration authorities about an employee or an employee’s family member.

“There is no place for any form of harassment, intimidation and abuse in the workplace,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in a press release issued by her office. “It is incumbent on us to help vulnerable workers be able to stand up for their rights without fear of punishment. This law does just that by protecting New Yorkers from being exploited by unscrupulous and predatory employers.”

The Office of the Attorney General, which submitted this bill and advocated for its passage, has received numerous credible reports of employers threatening immigrant workers with potential deportation for standing up for themselves, according to the release. In the legislature, the legislation was sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly member Marcos Crespo.

“New York’s immigrants have historically faced abuse from discriminatory employers,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos in the release. “Especially when our neighbors are facing constant threats of ICE raids by the federal government, it is of utmost importance that everyone is safe in the workplace. Immigrants should be able to work without the threat of being targeted by their employers because of their immigration status.”

In New York, the Labor Department has imposed at least $250,000 in fines over the last three years despite the fact that immigration threats as retaliation had not yet been codified, the release said.

“While anti-immigrant fervor is at an all-time high across the country, we as New Yorkers cannot forget our own history, our pathway to success and the promise of the Statue of Liberty at our shores,” said Assembly member Marcos Crespo in the release. “This is crucially important to protect the integrity of our state labor laws and ensure that all workers are treated with respect.”

Source: New York State Office of the Attorney General

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