The California Assembly Labor and Employment Committee approved new legislation May 1 that would make it harder for employers to threaten immigrant workers.
Warehouse worker Javier Rodriguez, who was fired in retaliation for exposing unsafe working conditions at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Southern California, testified at the hearing. Federal charges have been filed regarding Javier’s retaliatory firing and are under investigation.
“It is too easy right now for employers to silence workers. Sadly it is even easier for employers to target workers who are immigrants,” Javier said.
The Assembly committee approved AB 263, sponsored by Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina). The bill would bar employers from threatening workers about their legal status when they file complaints with the state or try to organize. would prohibit employers from asking for more paperwork from workers after they have been hired in order to intimidate employees and frighten into staying silent.
“Immigrants are subject … to reprisal that results in removal from family and country. For these workers, the stakes are high and the need for protections are great,” said Assemblymember Hernandez.
On the federal level, warehouse workers participated in a hearing May 2 sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.) on the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act of 2013 (H.R. 675).
The bill would extend protections to part-time workers in the areas of employer-provided health insurance, family and medical leave, and pension plans.
The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights builds on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by ensuring that part-time workers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week) and their families have access to critical workplace benefits.
The ACA penalizes employers who fail to provide health insurance to full-time workers, but includes no such penalties for employers who deny health coverage to part-time workers.