Workers in California and throughout the U.S. have rights and an expectation of fair treatment in the workplace. However, employee rights aren’t always exercised by employers in Los Angeles and Long Beach who hire immigrant workers.

It seems some employers actually lure workers from other countries with the promise of a job. Yet, when workers manage to come to the U.S., typically as an illegal, they may have a job but not necessarily the wages they were promised or proper working conditions.

Car washes, construction companies, farms and lawn care businesses are among those known to lure immigrants looking for work. Recent investigations have revealed that car washes on the West Coast often employ immigrants who are only paid tips. Another investigation involving car washes in the Midwest revealed car washes were bilking immigrant workers out of about $2.2 million annually.

Furthermore, many immigrant workers reported not being provided safety equipment such as gloves. As a result, many workers have reported suffering nausea, dizziness, rashes and cuts on the job. Other workers have reported not having access to drinking water at the workplace.

Why are immigrant workers particularly vulnerable? Undocumented workers have no rights unless rights are enforced by their employers who hire them or other agencies. Additionally, employers who hire undocumented workers may threaten to fire workers for complaining about workplace conditions. In an effort to curb workplace abuse of immigrant workers, some nonprofit groups and state agencies have been pushing for offending companies to be investigated and cited for their actions.

Some of those efforts have reaped rewards. Eight car wash companies in California were ordered to pay out $1 million last year in a settlement reached regarding wage theft.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Immigration reform prevents employer abuse,” Leo W. Gerard, Feb. 4, 2013

  • Our Los Angeles / Long Beach employment law firm handles a wide variety of workplace harassment and hostile work environment claims. To learn more about employee rights and our firm, please visit our Long Beach national origin harassment attorney page.