Refugees that are working in the United States have the same rights that other workers do. Legal status doesn’t matter when it comes to workplace protections for workers. All workers have the right to work in an environment where they are safe and not subjected to discrimination or harassment.
Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees workers the right to work without being discriminated against by an employer because of their race, religion, sex, gender, or where they are from. Any refugees who experience workplace discrimination have the right to file a complaint against that employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is a federal agency so they can investigate any employer in any state. And in 44 states the EEOC shares information with the state labor authorities. That means the employer may have also have to face a state investigation based on what the EEOC finds in its investigation.
Examples Of Workplace Discrimination
Refugees working in the United States may experience discrimination like:
Not Being Paid Correctly
Legal status doesn’t matter when it comes to pay. Refugees and immigrants must be paid the same as other workers that are doing the same job. And employers must pay either state minimum wage or Federal minimum wage, whichever one is the higher wage. Employers can’t pay refugees less than other workers.
Bullying And Harassment
Refugees have a right to work in a safe environment. Bullying and harassment are considered discrimination. All forms or harassment or bullying are discrimination, including asking offensive questions, making racially insensitive and offensive jokes about someone’s country, clothing, English language skills, religion, or culture. Refugees who are subjected to bullying or harassment should save as much documentation of what is happening to them as possible. Take photos and videos, save screenshots, and print out documents that show a pattern of discrimination and bullying.
Employers are not allowed to take money from refugees’ paychecks for things like food and lodging. They also can’t require refugees to come in early or stay late without paying them for the all the time they spend working. Wage theft is a very common type of discrimination that happens to refugees. Your employer must pay you, your employer refuses to pay you, you may have a claim. Refugees and immigrants should keep all documents related to their pay and schedules like copies of their time cards or time sheets, pay stubs, and other documents.
Filing A Workplace Discrimination Claim
Any refugee or immigrant that wants to file a complaint against an employer can do so through the EEOC’s website. It’s easy to start a claim. Claims with the EEOC can also be done on the phone. You can also file a claim on the state level, depending on where the incident took place, if you file a claim on the state level, it will be dual-filed with the EEOC and vice versa. That way you don’t have to send the same application twice.
But before filing a complaint it’s a good idea to sit down with your employer and show them the evidence you have proving you are being discriminated against. Some employers may not know what is going on. However, if you show them proof that you’re being discriminated against, and they don’t believe you or they do nothing then file the complaint.
Remedies For Harassment and Discrimination
If you are a refugee that has been a victim of discrimination you could be owed money for lost wages, raises you should have gotten, or money that was illegally taken from your paycheck. You also could receive lump sums of money for pain and suffering.
Sources Found Via:
Blog by Eric Minghella, Outreach Manager at Employment Law Help
Employment Law Help is an independent organization dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and enabling victims to hold their employers responsible for illegal actions taken against them.
Copyright Eric Minghella, 2023