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Undocumented worker rights

Because of confusion about the rights of undocumented workers employed in California resulting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Department of Industrial Relations is providing the following clarification of its enforcement practices:

All California workers are entitled to workplace protection

Q. Are undocumented workers protected by California labor laws?

A. Yes. All California workers -- whether or not they are legally authorized to work in the United States -- are protected by state laws regulating wages and working conditions. All California workers have the right:

  • To receive a minimum wage of $8.00 per hour
  • To earn overtime pay -- with some exceptions -- after working more than eight hours per day or more than 40 hours in one week
  • To file wage claims with the state labor commissioner if they believe their employer has violated state wage laws
  • To file workplace safety and health complaints with Cal/OSHA, the state’s workplace safety and health program
  • To work in an environment free from retaliation for exercising their rights.

The California Department of Industrial Relations - which enforces the state’s labor and workplace safety and health laws - will not question workers about their immigrant status. The department will:

  • Process all wage claims without regard to a worker’s immigration status
  • Hold hearings to recover unpaid wages and represent workers without regard to the worker’s immigration status
  • Investigate retaliation complaints and file court actions to collect back pay owed to any worker who was the victim of retaliation for having complained about wages or workplace safety and health, without regard to the worker’s immigration status
  • Vigorously enforce the state’s employment laws to protect all California workers.

If you have questions, call the state labor commissioner’s public information line or local office.