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Immigrant Workers Have Rights!


Immigrant Workers Have Rights!

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Immigrant workers have rights! Know your rights and enforce them! No matter what your immigration status is, these rights apply to all!

Wages – you have the right to be paid for all of your work!

  • You have the right to be paid for all of the hours that you work or are required to be at work.
  • You have to be paid at least $7.25 per hour for every hour that you work.
  • Almost all workers have the right to be paid “overtime” for any hours that you work over 40 in a week. Overtime is 1½ times your normal pay. (Farmworkers and live-in domestic workers are excluded.)
  • Employers cannot deduct money from your paycheck for broken equipment or materials! Only certain deductions are permitted, such as taxes, union dues, healthcare contributions.
  • You must be paid for your last weeks of work, even if you were fired!
  • Your boss must give you a pay stub each week that lists your hours worked, money earned, and deductions.
  • Most people that work for a company are employees.  Don’t let your boss call you an independent contractor to avoid paying you the minimum wage or overtime!

Health and Safety – injury rates are highest in immigrant communities!

  • You have the right to a healthy workplace.
  • You have the right to receive training in your language about hazards, preventing injury, and workplace standards. You have the right to safety equipment.
  • If there is a danger at your workplace, call OSHA and they will investigate at 215-861-4900. You can file an anonymous complaint with OSHA.
  • If you are injured at the workplace, under the law it is your employer’s responsibility to pay for your medical bills. This applies even for undocumented immigrants.
  • If you are out of work for over one week because of a workplace injury, your employer should be paying you a portion of your salary. Consult with a workers compensation attorney if this happens to you.
  • Let your employer know if you have been injured at work.

Discrimination – you have the right to work free of discrimination!

  • It is illegal for your employer to treat you differently because of your
  • Race, Color, Age (if you are over 40), National Origin, Religion, Gender, Disability, Pregnancy, and Sexual Orientation (in Philadelphia only)
  • This means you cannot be fired, paid less, or be given different work because of any of these traits.
  • It is illegal for your employer to allow sexual harassment at the workplace. If you are being harassed on the job, tell the harasser to stop, let a supervisor know it is happening, and get legal help

Sexual Harassment can lead to assault.  Speak Up and Get Help!

If you have been discriminated against at work, you need to file a claim very quickly.  Call:

  • Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (must file within 300 days) – 800.669.4000
  • Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (must file within 180 days) – 215.560.2496
  • Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (must file within 240 days) – 215.686.4670

Trafficking – know the signs!

Migrant workers and undocumented workers are sometimes the victims of human trafficking. If you or someone you know is working under these conditions, s/he could be a victim of human trafficking:

  • Working “for free” to pay off a debt.
  • Working under physical or psychological coercion.
  • Working for excessive hours for little pay, with no freedom of movement
  • Employer is holding your passport or other documents.
  • There are programs that can help victims of trafficking with housing and other needs, and victims can be eligible for special immigration status.


  • You have the right to join a union without being fired.  You have the right to join with your co-workers to demand better working conditions!
  • If you have a problem at work, bring a co-worker when you make a complaint.  The law protects you more if you complain as a group.


It is illegal for your employer to fire you or take any adverse action against you because you filed a claim under any of the laws discussed in this document! 

Serious threats from an employer can be a crime. Speak to a lawyer if this has happened to you.

Contact A Lawyer if You Need Help!

  • Community Legal Services – 215.981.3700
  • Philadelphia Legal Assistance – 215.981.3800
  • Friends of Farmworkers – 800.729.1607