On May 30, 2017, a California Legislature committee amended a proposed bill that would explicitly state the rights of immigrant workers at their job site, protect workers from employer self-audits of I-9 documents, and severely penalize employers who do not comply with the law. 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 work site and prevents employers from give ICE confidential employee information, such as social security numbers, without a subpoena.
Employers would also be required to notify the Labor Commissioner of any ICE I-9 audits and worksite raids. If during the investigation ICE inspects I-9’s or other employment records, the employer is also required to notify all employees (their representative(s)) in writing. If ICE finds a deficiency with an I-9 or other employment records, the employer would be required to provide each affected employee (and the employee’s representative) a copy of the ICE notice that states the results of the investigation and a timeline for the employee to remedy potential violations.
In addition, this bill would require employers to provide notice to the Labor Commissioner before checking the employment eligibility of a current employee, including 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 current bill provides for penalties of not less than $2,000 or more than $5,000 for a first violation and not less than $5,000 or more than $10,000 for each violation after that. These penalties would be recoverable by the Labor Commissioner. The pre-amended bill called for penalties of no less than $10,000 and up to $25,000 for each violation.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT
This bill is currently in draft stages and still has a long way to go (and presumably many more drafts) before being passed into law. While AB 450 would make California the first state to codify the workers’ constitutional rights during immigration raids in the workplace, as we discussed in our eblast last week regarding ICE raids in Lake County, 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 “What To Do When Ice Shows Up” cheat sheet, which outlines procedures employers should take if they are subjected to an ICE raid. We will provide more information on this bill should it advance in the California Legislature. Please contact The Saqui Law Group with any questions concerning ICE raids, audits or other immigration related inquiries.