Proposed legislation that would guarantee immigrant workers’ rights in the workplace has been passed by the California Legislature and is now on the Governor’s desk. As we reported here earlier, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (“AB 450”) would specifically require employers to ask for a warrant before granting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) access to nonpublic areas of a worksite and prevents employers from providing ICE confidential employee information, such as social security numbers and, most importantly, I-9s, without a “notice for inspection.” Penalties for non-compliance range from $2,000 to $5,000 for an initial violation to between $5,000 and $10,000 for subsequent violations.
There have been some amendments to the proposed legislation since our last report. The amended bill no longer requires employers to notify the Labor Commissioner of any ICE I-9 audits and worksite raids. The proposed bill also no longer requires employers to provide notice to the Labor Commissioner before checking the employment eligibility of a current employee. This includes conducting a self-audit or inspection of specified employment eligibility verification forms, after the employee has originally been hired and verified by the employer. The amended law prohibits both public and private employers from re-verification of a current employee’s employment eligibility after hire unless required under the federal law which prohibits the unlawful employment of undocumented workers. Employers who violate this specific provision would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
This bill is being portrayed as a response to President Trump’s immigration-related policies. Assuming this bill is signed, employers will need to train supervisors and managerial employees on what to do during an ICE raid. As we previously advised, employers already have rights they can and should assert during a raid. AB 450 simply offers specific statutory guidance for employers who are uncertain about their responsibilities when ICE agents appear for enforcement actions while also adding potentially severe penalties for employers who do not comply with the law.
Again, for your convenience, here is a link to our current “What To Do When Ice Shows Up” cheat sheet, which outlines procedures employers should take if they are subjected to an ICE raid. This cheat sheet will be revised if the legislation is signed by the Governor. An updated cheat sheet will be provided once our office has an opportunity to review and understand the final bill. Please contact The Saqui Law Group with any questions concerning ICE raids, audits, or other immigration related inquiries.