In 2013, the Department of Motor Vehicles was authorized to issue an original driver’s license to an individual who is not able to submit proof that their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. (California Assembly Bill 60 created Vehicle Code section 12801.9). This same bill also made it illegal to discriminate against a person who holds such a driver’s license under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. AB 60 is to take effect on January 1st, 2015.
The licenses issued to undocumented persons under the new law will have a distinctive design/color and will have text on the photo indicating limitations for official federal purposes. Additional provisions related to the licenses were included in Assembly Bill 1660 (passed in September) to provide protections in employment context. Employers will be prohibited from discriminating against a person because they hold a license that was issued under Vehicle Code section 12801.9. Employers will be prohibited from requiring workers to present a driver’s license unless possessing one is required by the employer or otherwise permitted by laws in place. Additional provisions have been put in place to protect holders of licenses issued under Vehicle Code section 12801.9 from unlawful release of private information, use to establish citizenship or immigration status for investigation, arrest, citation, etc.
The new licenses will not be acceptable to establish eligibility for employment and they will not be acceptable for any official federal requirements or purposes. The new laws will not change the employers’ rights regarding obtaining information in order to establish an employee’s authorization to work (required under federal law). Employers will still be required to have employees provide documentation and submit the I-9 documentation to determine work eligibility. Employer action taken in accordance with federal Immigration and Nationality Act will not be in violation of the new laws regarding the licenses and the use of licenses issued under Vehicle Code section 12801.9.
For additional information regarding the new laws regarding issuance of licenses for undocumented persons or to get further information on federal work eligibility laws, contact the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.