California Law Protecting Whistleblowers Lacking Work Authorization from Retaliation

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill No. 2751 into being. The Bill amends a recently enacted law prohibiting employers from retaliating against undocumented workers who engage in protected activity. The amendment is in reference to Assembly Bill No. 263, which restricted employers’ ability to put disciplinary action in place for employees who misrepresented their personal information (criminal history, immigration status, etc.)

The new law makes it illegal under California law for employers to retaliate by targeting immigration status when employees lacking work authorization are exercising a protected right such as filing a complaint for unpaid wages. The new law would prohibit employers from responding to whistleblowers lacking proper work authorization with threats to contact immigration authorities, discharging the employee, etc. California law now prohibits this type of action unless employee updates to personal information are directly related to the skill set, qualifications, or knowledge necessary for their job. The original bill’s intended purpose was to protect employees who are updating their work-authorization status, but it can be read to include protection for those wishing to update other information based on prior misrepresentations like criminal history. The amendment (AB 2751) clarifies the scope of the bill (AB 263) so that it specifically protects those employees who are attempting to update personal information in relation to name, social security number or federal employment authorization documentation. The amendment’s clarification allows employers to discipline/terminate employees who provides false statements not related to immigrate status, but continues to prohibit retaliation or disciplinary action against any workers who update records on lawful changes to immigration related information and documentation.

If you are unsure whether or not the new California law applies to your situation, you should contact the employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik immediately for legal advice regarding your specific situation.